Sounds & Calls

Male lion (Panthera leo)

Male lion (Panthera leo) at dawn, Manyeleti, South Africa

The Lion (Panthera leo) is one of the world’s six ‘big cat’ species and is found mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. 

What does a lion sound like? Lions are well-known for their distinctive and powerful roaring calls, which can carry several kilometres. A typical roaring sequence consists of a one or two softer moans followed by several loud, powerful roars and ending in a series of grunting huffs. Lion roars are given for a number of reasons including declaring territory, attracting a mate and communicating between pride members. Apart from the iconic roar, lions make other sounds including deep, guttural growls, snarls, chuffs, moans, grunts and even purrs. The roar of a male lion is lower in pitch than that of a female.

Listen to some examples of lion roars and other sounds below.

Listen to Lion Roars & Sounds

The audio in the video below features the roaring of a pair of lions responding to others from their pride in the distance. This sample was recorded in Kafue National Park, Botswana.


Lion – Sounds of a mating pair

 M6MKH-647 This sample features the interaction sounds of a mating pair of lions, with the male lion making the deep growls and the lioness making the yowling calls. Recorded in Kafue National Park, Zambia.

A Unique Roar – Study on Lion Communication

A recent study into lion communication revealed the roars of an individual lion are distinct, identifiable and trackable.  The roars of a number of different lions were analyzed in the study and each individual was found to have a distinct sound ‘fingerprint’.

A pattern recognition algorithm was trained to learn the individual roars and it was subesequently able to identify individual lions with a 91.5% accuracy. Other research has shown lions can recognise the calls of individuals allowing them to locate companions and identify potentially hostile neighbours. These findings may have practical implications for lion monitoring and could facilitate the development of collar-free tracking techniques, such as bioacoustic monitoring to track individual lions across a landscape.