SOUNDSCAPE: The Lion Pride | BBC Radio 4 March 2009

Monday- Friday, 23 – 27 March, 2009
Narrator: Hugh Quarshie
Wildlife sound recordist: Chris Watson
Producer: Sarah Blunt

SOUNDSCAPE: The Lion Pride is an intimate and revealing story of one of the greatest predators on earth; the story of a male lion, from birth to adulthood, and life amongst his pride in the Masai Mara in south west Kenya.

Narrated by HUGH QUARSHIE, this fictional series combines a powerful narrative with location recordings by wildlife sound recordist CHRIS WATSON to take listeners into the very heart of a lion pride in Africa.

Life for our pride is not easy. They have to face the harsh realities of life when two nomadic lions, chase our pride male out of his territory, before killing his cubs and mating with the females to sire their own young. Amongst these newborn cubs is Kidogu (which means ‘little one‘ in Swahili), whose life we follow. New born cubs are helpless, born with their eyes shut, and weighing less than a bag of sugar, they are highly vulnerable to attacks from hyenas, pythons, eagles and leopards. Half of all cubs fail to survive their first year, and whilst only a few weeks old, Kidogu, witnesses two of his siblings being killed by hyenas, before being separated from his mother during a terrifying ordeal when a herd of buffalo attack the pride. But Zuri, his mother, does not abandon her cub, and after finding and being reunited with him, she provides the security and protection Kidogu needs, until he is old enough to leave his family and find a territory of his own.

Over the course of several years, wildlife sound recordist CHRIS WATSON has been recording the most intimate details of the lives of African lions. We hear the unique calls between a lioness and her cubs as they suckle, feed and play; we’re with the pride when they are attacked by a herd of buffalo, when they go hunting at night. We’re with Kidogu when he’s chased by a herd of elephants, pursues a warthog, attacks a herd of wildebeest and eventually leaves his pride to find a territory of his own. There are the sounds of the landscape and its wildlife; lions, hyenas, buffalo, elephants, vultures, wildebeest, zebra and crocodiles; there are the sounds of dawn, dusk and night, the sounds of the Mara River, where hippo bathe and crocodiles target vast herds of wildebeest; the sounds of the riverine forest, grassy plains and marsh.

Together, the evocative and thrilling soundtrack and powerful narration make for a very exciting and dramatic story of life in the Masai Mara as experienced by a young lion cub and his pride.

Chris’s recording of Hippos was aired on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. This recording is one of many available on his CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’, which is avaiable from the TouchShop here…