Baboons are indigenous to Africa and can be found across sub-Saharan Africa, from Ethiopia to South Africa, in desert, savanna grassland, woodland, forest, and mountain habitats. Baboons are largely ground-dwelling animals and, unlike tree-living monkeys, have arms and legs of about equal length. The females are half the size of the males, and the males have much larger canine teeth. Their lifespan can be up to 40 years.
Baboons have a varied diet that includes fruit, roots, and grubs and other insects. They will eat almost anything and, with hands similar to humans, they will dig for food such as roots and bulbs.
There is controversy about the taxonomic classification of baboons, particularly because interbreeding is common, but five subspecies are often listed: anubis (or olive), yellow, chacma, hamadryas, and guinea. Currently, we have Olive, Hamadryas, and hybrid baboons (offspring of two different subspecies) who call the Sanctuary home On 186 acres near San Antonio, Texas, the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary provides refuge for more than 600 nonhuman primates.
The most widespread of the baboon species in Africa, olive baboons occupy a variety of habitats and form troops numbering from 15 to 150 individuals. Olive females normally remain in their natal group for life, while the males leave when they approach sexual maturity. Average lifespans in the wild range from 20 to 30 years.
Olive baboons will make use of almost any food item, including nuts, fruits, roots, insects, cactus, and small mammals. They are opportunistic hunters and sometimes hunt cooperatively in areas where prey is more plentiful than plant-based food items.
The biggest threat to olive baboons is the loss of habitat caused by humans encroaching on and cultivating once-wild lands.
The hamdryas baboons were revered by the ancient Egyptians and are sometimes known as the “sacred baboon,” though they are now extinct in that country. They currently occupy the semi-desert and rocky areas of Northeast Africa and the Arabian peninsula.
Their behavior is different from other baboon species in that the male stays within his clan for life and may have as many as ten females in his group. A single male with his females makes up a group. When groups come together, they form a clan, and when clans come together, they form a band. Finally, when bands join forces, a troop is formed, making a formidable target to their main predators: lions and leopards.
Human encroachment into wild areas occupied by the baboons is increasing the number and frequency of human/baboon conflicts. Though currently stable in most parts of their current range, their future in the wild is uncertain.
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