Chacma Baboon

CLASSIFICATION

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae

Species: Papio ursinus

 

SIZE

This Old World Monkey is the largest of the baboon species, and one of the largest monkey species, in the world, with males weighing up to 45kg.

 

DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT

These adaptive primates range all over Southern Africa in various habitats from savannahs and deserts to mountains and forests.

 

DIET

Chacma baboon diet consists mostly of grass, seeds, browse, fruits and insects. These opportunistic eaters, however, will eat nearly anything available, including eggs, small animals, carion, and scavanged human food.

 

BEHAVIOUR & SOCIETY

Baboons have a strict heirarchy, indicative of high intelligence. The females are born into their ranking, and will remain with their natal group for life. Males will fight for dominance, and if they are not awarded the right to mate, they will seek another troop for other mating opportunities, thus increasing genetic diversity. Baboons will not in-breed.

 

Baboons have an unwarranted reputation for being highly aggressive. While dominance displays amongst males is not uncommon, these interactions are rarely if ever life threatening. There are no documented cases of wild Chacma baboons being responsible for a human fatality.

 

This reputation may have come about due to the male baboons' large canines, and a not-uncommon behavior of stealing from humans. Baboons have the largest canine-to-body size ratio in the animal kingdom. While these canines can be lethal, they are rarely used in that way, but more for sexual selection and dominance displays. Baboons are highly adaptive, intelligent and opportunistic. Human encroachment has created an easy food source for baboons, as they enjoy the same foods as us. It's much easier to steal from rubbish bins or from an unsuspecting passer-by than to go out and forage for it ("fast food"). Baboons have shown lessening fear towards humans when it comes to a tasty meal, which can be frightening, giving baboons an inflated reputation for being dangerous.

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