Baboon

(Papio)

Range and habitat
The baboon is categorised into several species; the olive baboon, the yellow baboon, the guinea baboon, the hamadryas baboon and the chacma baboon. The habitat of baboons is diverse. In general, they live in Africa, south of the Sahara. The baboon is also found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It is likely that the species was brought there by man.
The habitat of the baboon varies from savannahs and grasslands to steppes and tropical rainforests. As long as there is water nearby and a high rock, hill or tree to sleep in, the baboon is happy. By sleeping on high ground, the baboon is better protected from enemies.

Appearance
The baboon has a number of typical characteristics. Its long snout, sharp canines and red (or black) backside are easy to spot. Baboon fur colour varies from yellowish to reddish and from silvery-grey to brown and black (depending on the species). Male baboons have a thick coat of fur, especially around their chest and head, where they have thick manes. Baboons use both their arms and legs when walking. They have a relatively long opposing thumb, which enables them to make fine movements with their hands.

Did you know?
  • Baboons are omnivores
  • Length 50 - 95 cm
  • Weight Females 10 - 15 kg, males 10 - 31 kg
  • Lifespan From 30 - 40 years in the wild; up to 45 years in captivity
  • Range Africa and Asia
  • Habitat Very varied

Reproduction
During the fertile period of their cycle, a female baboon’s backside swells. This is irresistible to male baboons. Whether or not they are allowed to mate with a female baboon depends, in most baboon species, on their position in the hierarchy. Having built up a relationship with the female is also important. With hamadryas baboons it works differently. The males have their own ‘harem’ and they are the only ones who mate with the females in their group. During gestation, the female’s backside turns bright red and after 161 to 187 days (depending on the species), she gives birth to a single young. Usually, one young is born, but twins also occur. The young are mainly cared for by the mother.

Diet
Baboons are omnivores. They eat fruit, grasses and seeds, as well as eggs, insects, birds and other small mammals. Baboons can even live on a diet of only grasses, which enables them to survive in areas where there are almost no other monkey species, such as the savannah.

Behaviour and habits
Baboons live in large groups called ‘troops’. In most species, a group consists of several females and several males. Hamadryas baboons are different; each male has his own group of females, a ‘harem’. The different harems form a larger group that works together. Baboons travel around during the day to look for food. In the evening, they return to one of their usual sleeping spots.