Baboons are some of the most identifiable of the monkey world. They have tufts of hair on either side of their faces and large, hairless bottoms that can turn red. These old-world monkeys also do not have prehensile tails like some other monkeys, which means they don’t use their tail like a hand. The 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 the world’s largest monkeys, according to National Geographic. From head to bottom, baboons grow to 20 to 34 inches (60 to 86 centimetres) and their tails add an additional 16 to 23 inches (41 to 58 cm) to their length. They weigh about as much as a human child 22 to 37 kilograms.
Baboons Sharing 91% DNA similarities with humans. This particular Monkey is often argued to be an Ape instead. However, science has placed them into the area of being a Monkey based on a variety of contributing factors. There are 5 species of the Baboon and they are all part of the Old World Monkeys.
The Baboon certainly does have many characteristics that are different from other Monkeys. For example almost all Monkey species have a very flat nose. This one though features a very long and large nose. It consumes most of their face and so you can’t overlook exactly what type of Monkey it happens to be. The males have a nose that can be up to 7 times larger than that of the females. However, both genders do have a nose that you can’t help but notice!
You will also notice that the Baboon features teeth that are extremely sharp compared to other Monkeys. They don’t have a diet that is very different so what does this offer them? It certainly gives them an appearance of being mean and that could be and advantage when it comes to predators. Yet that has also had a dark side to it in society as many cultures think that the Baboon is evil.
The Baboon spends lots of time sitting on his buttocks, it appears to be heavily in tough. They have a padded area on the buttocks that is free from hair. It is thick and provides them with a very comfortable position for those long hours of sitting and gazing around. The coloring for this particular type of Monkey can be very different based on where they are located.
Some of them feature a grayish coloring. Others are black or brownish. All of them have a white mane though that covers them around the head. You have to take a close look at them to fully appreciate how their body all comes together. They are very strong and powerful primates.
There is plenty of debate over the evolution process and the Baboon. The fact that they are so closely related to humans often scares people. Yet it is also fascinating and there is hope we will one day find the link in ancestry that ties it all together. Fossils that are about 8 million years old have been found of the Baboon. However, they don’t tell us much about changes that occurred or why. These fossil remains though are larger than the Baboon today so that is something to take a closer look at. The savannah Baboons have evolved though to where the males are stronger and more aggressive than their ancestors.
Baboons tend to do what they want when they want! They can sleep in the day and look for food at night. They can be active at night and sleep all day long. They can even do both with short naps in between. It is believed that their schedule has to do with what they have readily available around them. Those that live close to people may go out at night to get the goats or sheep as they can’t get to them during the day.
The groups of Baboons can be very large. The smallest size of them is about 50 members. However, they can have up to 250 members. They have a very complex level of social organization that takes place among them. This helps them to be able to keep things from becoming chaotic.
Part of that successful organization comes in the form of them being able to develop sub groups. They have mini cultures that occur inside of that larger ones. There are many dominant males and they have several females. They don’t allow these females to venture too far from them either.
Social activity is a big part of belonging to a Baboon family. They spend time chattering among themselves. It can sound very loud and chaotic when you hear them in their environment. Yet to them it means that there is safety, they that share bonds, and that they are well cared for. Without such social aspects of the group they would lose their desire to thrive.
There are many fights as well that can occur within such a large family. They are internal and often among the males. These males are often fighting over the females that they want to be part of their harems. Sometimes females will fight with each other too over the young or over food. There are times when those that seem to be consistent trouble makers are forced out of the group. The decision is make to help keep the peace for the remaining members of the group.
Where to find baboons
The Olive Baboon is the only one found in Uganda. You can find them in all Parks with the exception of the three Montane region parks such as Mgahinga Gorllla Park, Rwenzori Mountains and Mount Elgon. They usually live in large groups and their dog-like heads make them look fierce and they love to show their menacing teeth. They are also quite large. Most safari visitors will see them along their journey in both parks and in the countryside
Baboons are found in surprisingly varied habitats and are extremely adaptable. The major requirements for any habitat seem to be water sources and safe sleeping places in either tall trees or on cliff faces. When water is readily available, baboons drink every day or two, but they can survive for long periods by licking the night dew from their fur.
Habitat and Distribution
This particular Monkey calls both Africa and Asia home. They tend to live in the tropical locations most of the time. However, they are also found living in many dry areas. They are versatile and spend a great deal of time living in trees. They also spend time on land too though. They have been seen in many different types of environments. Changes to their environment doesn’t seem to bother them.
Baboons are only found in a very specific area of the world: Africa and Arabia. Four species, the chacma, olive, yellow and Guinea, live in the savannas. Others live in other semi-arid habitats, though some baboons can sometimes be found in tropical forests. The Hamadryas baboon lives in the hills along the Red Sea.
Unlike other monkeys, baboons stay on the ground much of the time. They do sleep, eat or keep watch in trees, though.
Today they only have 2.7% of their forest land that they can rely on. When you consider that 25 years ago they had 40% forest region you can see how they have had to adapt to changes in order to survive.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Baboons consume a variety of different plants and leaves. They are slow eaters and so it man take them many hours per day to be able to get enough eating done. They will also consume a variety of insects as well as small animals. They have been a problem in some areas for ranchers due to that reason. They tend to eat what they can when it is abundant to store fat
As omnivores, baboons eat a wide array of meats and plants. Typical foods in a baboon’s diet include grasses, fruits, seeds, roots, bark, rodents, birds and the young of antelopes, sheep and other mammals. They even eat other monkeys. Sometimes baboons make pests of themselves by eating crops nearby their homes.
Baboons are very social creatures. Groups of baboons are called troops, and a troop can contain dozens to hundreds of members. The largest troops have up to 300 members, according to the African Wildlife Federation. Troops groom, sleep and protect each other.
Young baboons in the troop will also play together. Games include wrestling, swinging from vines and chase.
A dominant male usually runs the troop. Males are usually ranked in dominance by age and size while females are usually ranked by birth order.
Social ranking is what will determine which of the males in a given group. They will be able to breed with the females that are part of their harem. There can be several days between each of the females being in estrus for the convenience of the male. He will have time to rest between being with each of them.
Mating is very gentle with the Baboons including the males bringing them food, gentle touches, and hours spend to groom the females. This is all part of ensuring that the female will be receptive to the mating when it occurs.
There are quite a few natural predators out there that the Baboon has to be concerned about. They include various wild cats – Leopards, Lions, and Cheetahs. They also have problems with the Hyena. The younger ones can become prey of birds including the Eagle.
Humans continue to be the largest problem for them. They are heavily hunted due to the way they look. The culture in these regions has them pegged as being evil. Crops have to be grown and livestock needs to graze for the forest continues to be destroyed to make room for those to occur.