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Baboon (Pan troglodytes)

Baboons are large terrestrial monkeys confined to Africa. There are five different species of baboons. These are the Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus), the Western, Red, or Guinea baboon (Papio papio), the Sacred or Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas), the Olive baboon (Papio anubis) and the Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus). Four baboon species (chacma, olive, yellow, and Guinea) are known as the savanna baboons. These animals form large troops, composed of dozens or even hundreds of baboons, governed by a complex hierarchy that fascinates scientists. Males use shows of physical power to dominate rivals, and troop members spend endless hours carefully grooming one another to remove insects and dead skin. A fifth species, the hamadryas baboon, lives in the hills along the Red Sea coasts of Africa and Arabia. These cliff-dwelling baboons disperse to forage during the day and reconvene in much smaller groups at night.

Baboons are some of the world's largest monkeys, and males of different species average from 33 to 82 pounds. Baboon bodies are 20 to 40 inches long, not including substantial tails of varying lengths. Baboons generally prefer savanna and other semi-arid habitats, though a few live in tropical forests. Baboons live in troops which usually number between 20 and 80 individuals, though bigger groups of well over 100 are known. The troops consist of several 'kinship' groups of adult females and their generations of offspring, as well as a number of mature, sexually-active males. There is a definite hierarchy among the females and the males, with individual males generally having exclusive 'rights' to certain kinship groups. Immature males are tolerated within the troop until they reach five years of age, after which they attempt to link up with neighbouring troops of unrelated females. Here, they will strive to become dominant, but it will not be until they are 7 to 9 years old that they will be taken seriously by the females.

Baboons are opportunistic eaters and, fond of crops, become destructive pests to many African farmers. In areas where human settlements are encroaching on their natural habitats, Baboons are also known to raid crop fields which has led to them often being seen as pests. Being such intelligent animals, baboons take readily to stealing food from human beings, and can become quite a nuisance at camps and picnic sites. The males are equipped with enormous canine teeth and though these are used primarily in ritualized displays of dominance, they are occasionally turned to more practical use. Baboons have very similar teeth to people with a series of large, flat molars which are perfect for grinding down vegetation and surplus food can be stored in their flexible cheek pouches to be saved for later.

As with most other primates - man included - baboons are omnivorous, eating both vegetable and animal matter. The troop forages in a loose pack, digging up succulent rhizomes, turning over rocks in search of grubs or scorpions, gorging themselves on ripe fruit, or wading into swamps for waterlily tubers. Although fruits, grasses, seeds, bark, tough roots and flowers all make up the bulk of their diet, along with insects, eggs, lizards, birds and rodents, the Baboon's large size and power also means that they sometimes hunt and kill larger prey such as young Gazelles. Antelope fawns, sheep and hares are also preyed upon whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Baboon Fun Facts

  • There are five species of baboon.
  • Noises made by baboons include grunts, barks and screams.
  • The main predators of baboons are the large cats including Lions, Leopards, Cheetahs and Tigers.
  • Baboons are a ground dwelling animal.
  • Most baboons live in hierarchical troops.
  • Lifespan Yellow baboons: 20 to 30 years.
  • Lifespan Guinea baboons: 35 to 45 years.
  • The Baboon eat almost anything including small animals and plants.
  • The female baboon is almost one-half the size of the male.
  • The female baboon initiates mating by presenting her swollen rump to the male.
  • The Olive Baboon is the most widely spread of all baboons and can be found in 25 countries.
  • The Yellow Baboon is so called due to its yellowish-brown hair
  • Like other Old World monkeys, baboons don't have gripping tails, but they can and do climb trees to sleep, eat, or look out for trouble.
  • The collective name for a group is a troup, congress, cartload or flange.

Did You Know?

  • Using vocal exchanges, baboons can determine dominance relations between individuals.
  • The females tend to be the primary caretaker of the young, although several females will share the duties for all of their offspring.
  • Native to the Horn of Africa, Hamadryas Baboons are often referred to as the'Sacred Baboon' as it seen as a god by the Ancient Egyptians.

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