African Jungle is a huge collection of unique ambiences recorded in Central Africa’s Congo Basin rainforests, in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. To my knowledge, these are the first surround field recordings made in this area. Last year I spent a whole month off the grid, listening to and recording a variety of habitats at all times of day and night, at the height of the rainy season when birds are most vocal. It took me many days of travel to get to these places, from using trains, boats, cars and planes to hiking on foot in the jungle.
The library covers the following locations:
extremely remote primary rainforests unknown to the Western world until 20 years ago and untouched by logging for thousands of years
an even more remote baï in these rainforests, basically a huge clearing with a mud pool in the center where elephants and other wildlife congregate
dense secondary rainforest that has at some point been subjected to logging but has since grown back; this type of biome features dense undergrowth as opposed to little to none in the primary rainforests, which results in rather different acoustics
young forests in remote places on the border between Gabon and Congo; these forests are no more than a few hundred years old but harbor a great diversity of wildlife species, different from what can be found in primary or secondary rainforests
ravines, clearings, mango groves and banana patches; all impacted by human activity but still full of wildlife and birdsong
All times of day and night are covered. A few of the soundscapes feature soft wind, rain and thunder most of them are recorded during calm weather. A good part however features fog drip and humidity falling on vegetation which is typical of lowland rainforests. The acoustics range from muffled and reverberant in true rainforests to bright and open in ravines and clearings.
The soundscape ranges from soft rain and subtle insect chorus to full-on biophony and deafening thunder, with many stages in between. Lush dawn choruses abound, piercing insect calls are present in night recordings, a few species of frogs can be heard and several mammals complement the mix.
It took me about a month to ID the most common species that can be heard in the recordings, totaling more than 70 birds and mammals (lists included with the library as separate documents). This is just scratching the surface though. The area has been poorly explored and many species remain undiscovered. Highlights include:
Forest Elephant - recorded at various distances from close-up to about a mile away
the highly vocal Turaco - three species identified
the cuddly Western Tree Hyrax, whose terrifying night calls instantly bring to mind Congo’s rainforests
Putty-nosed monkeys - their calls resonating deep in the forest
several Hornbill species - all recognizable by the harsh sound of their feathers in flight
Orioles and Carrots - both uttering melodious calls in the canopy
Doves, Pigeons and Coucals - featuring pleasant fluting and hooting song
Every file in the library has been carefully meta-tagged with descriptive keywords for ease of use. As mentioned before, the library also comes with a pdf document listing all identified species for each and every recording. A word of caution here: this location is poorly explored so many species were not possible to identify and can even be new to science.
At a glance:
80 STEREO and SURROUND .wav files
recorded and presented as 24 bit/96 kHz, stereo and surround (5.0) files
more than 7 hours and 40 minutes of content
15/60 GB uncompressed size - 13.6/50GB zip archive
recorded on Sound Devices 633 with Sennheiser Double Mid-Side MKH30/8040 microphones