Listen to the Sounds of African Rainforests

Where on Earth is more wondrous and invigorating than the rainforest? Many of us who live in countries like the United States may only dream of visiting these natural wonderlands. In the meantime, to sate our curiosity about the planet’s richest wild locale, we can dig into nature documentaries. A new alternative hails from the longstanding organization Elephant Listening Project.

In 1999, scientific minds at Cornell University launched a mission to record sounds from the thick of forests worldwide. For one thing, this would this glean better insight into the lives of the planet’s most incredible beasts. The plan also involved documenting incidents of poaching. The project expanded over the years; in 2017, the team planted 50 microphones around the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park. This region covers the forests of Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo. As of this June, the public finally has access to some of the sounds this installation recorded.

Elephants walk through the forest.


At present, it seems as though only three short recordings are available for public listening. However, the Elephant Listening Project endeavors to continue uploading recordings for all people to hear. And despite the name, elephants are not the project’s sole focus. As you can see below, recordings feature the sounds of chimpanzees as well. We also hear the sounds of gunshots, alerting us to the activity of poachers in the Nouabalé-Ndoki area.

In the below clip, male chimpanzees alert the community to their presence, with the help of a percussive tree trunk:

Elephants enjoying a leisurely day in the forest:

The gunshots of poachers, a significant danger to many wild species in the region:

We first caught sight of the news about this project at  National Geographic, which directed us to the organization’s Soundcloud. Though many of us may not visit the forests of Africa ourselves, this nascent effort helps us feel just a bit closer to the world’s most wonderful wildlife.

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