There are few people who know me reasonably well who are unaware of my love affair with the African bush. I head off to the Kruger National Park, or some other bushveld reserve whenever I can afford it, which is not nearly often enough for my liking.
Once I am there, especially if I am travelling solo, I observe strict silence so that I can listen to the sounds of the African bush. I’m a city slicker by birth and upbringing and the sounds are confusing (I spent most of my formative years thinking that the chirruping sound of crickets, entry number 70, was actually the sound of stars twinkling. I also thought the sound of some clicking stream frogs, entry number 72, was a snake about to strike. To top it off I once nearly died of fright when I heard the sound of hippos because I was convinced it was a lion about to eat me. Go on laugh. Most people do. However, the entry for hippos. entry number 24, says their snorting is “vaguely similar” to a lion’s roar). Thus it is that I find this wonderful CD by Doug Newman and Gordon King with 76 animal calls a truly invaluable resource.
The most iconic sound of Africa is the distinctive cry of the African Fish Eagle, entry number 38, and it never fails to thrill me.
There are a few sounds which I could distinguish without aid, such as the sound of cicadas on a hot and lazy afternoon, entry number 71, but there are many other sounds which I have learned to distinguish only because they are in the book and on the CD. I’m not the sharpest at identifying species, so when I encountered a squirrel behaving quite, quite bizarrely, I was unsure whether it was a tree squirrel or an endangered red bush squirrel. I spent a good hour watching this little creature dancing and singing for me instead of scuttling away, so I was able to identify it easily from its call, entry number 16. as a red bush squirrel. I still think it must have been rabid. Two other cars drove by in that time without frightening my little friend. Neither of them stopped for the sighting that was one of the highlights of a trip to the Northern Kruger.
Sounds of the African Bush features a photograph and information on each of the most common sounds one is likely to encounter in the African bush. A distribution map within each entry shows where in Africa the animal occurs. I find these distribution maps incredibly helpful in eliminating one or other species.
One of the greatest joys is hearing the sound, identifying it, then looking for the creature which made it. It is all about spotting the animal.
One little word of caution. Please do NOT play these CDs in the wild. It is cruel to the animals. Their calls are often territorial and playing their call will put them on alert, discouraging them from settling, or worse, leading them to believe that their home territory is indefensible, so they may abandon it.
Title: Sounds of the African Bush
Type: Wildlife Guide
Author: Gordon King; Doug Newman
Publisher: Struik Nature; Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9781920572419 / ISBN 978-1-92057-241-9
Softcover, 15×21 cm, 48 pages, 1 Audio CD incl. 99 mp3 tracks