Running Time:

141 min

Release Date:

February 2018

Recording Location:

Lake Katavi, Katavi National Park, southwest Tanzania

The First Dawn

The wooded grassland habitats of east Africa are the cradle of humanity. For generation upon generation, humans, and before them their hominin predecessors, have lived on these savannahs. And in doing so, they would have spent their days attuned to the natural sounds around them, listening for both opportunities and dangers.

This recording brings you the morning from a location where open woodlands border the edge of a seasonal lake. It is easy to imagine early humans living in an abundant environment such as this.

At first light, a pair of African Fish Eagles soar overhead, their evocative cries echoing across the landscape. Gradually, a chorus of woodland birds awakes and gives song, underpinned by the rolling cooing of doves. In the distance, the grunts of hippopotamus and calls of waterbirds are heard from the open water of the lake. In the trees around, sunbirds, starlings, rollers, hornbills, lorikeets and brubrus sing, while choruses of spur fowl erupt occasionally. At one point, a giraffe walks close by, scuffing the ground with its hooves.

This soundscape is the same as our distant ancestors would have known. In listening, we’re hearing their world.

Andrew comments:

"Of all the places we visited in Tanzania, Lake Katavi captured my imagination. It is a remote location in the far southwest of the country. For miles around, the country is flat to gently undulating, a mosaic of open woodlands and tropical grasslands. Then, unexpectedly, one emerges through acacia thickets onto the shores of an expansive lake.

"In the dry season, when we were there, the waters had receded leaving a muddy foreshore and beyond, the lakebed with pools of deeper water. In these, hungry pelicans and waterfowl made a feast of trapped fish. Meanwhile, hippos wandered between shore feeding areas and the waters, where they’d laze during the heat of the day. Other animals came and went to drink from the pools; zebra, giraffe, hyenas.

"Lake Katavi is similar to Australia’s ancient Lake Mungo, where some of the earliest evidence of aboriginal peoples has been found. Katavi is a place I could easily imagine early humans as part of the landscape, feeding off fish and woodland foods.

"And so I placed my microphones to record what they may have heard."


Audio sample of this album


First Light, with African Fish Eagle



Dawn, with Ground Hornbills



A Giraffe Strolls Past



Purple-banded Sunbirds



Later Morning: The Slate-coloured Boubou


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