Olive baboon

The most wide-ranging of all baboons, native to 25 equatorial African countries

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Prominent members of the baboon family known for their robust build, canine-like appearance, and distinctive behaviors. These primates inhabit various habitats across Africa, ranging from savannas and woodlands to riverine forests and rocky outcrops.

Physically, olive baboons exhibit several unique characteristics that distinguish them from other primate species. They have powerful limbs and a long, pointed snout, giving them a canine-like appearance reminiscent of a dog. Their four-legged gait is reminiscent of a gallop, contributing to their agile and swift movement on the ground. Despite their large size, they possess a remarkable ability to climb trees and navigate their environment with agility. Olive baboons also have long, sharp canine teeth and strong jaws, which are adapted for consuming a wide range of foods.

One of the most striking features of olive baboons is their thick fur, which obscures their large ears from view. Adult males often have a gray, hairy ruff around their cheeks, adding to their imposing appearance. Additionally, olive baboons can store food in their cheek pouches, facilitating their foraging activities and enabling them to transport food efficiently.

Infant olive baboons are born with pink skin and sparse facial hair, gradually developing their characteristic olive-brown fur as they mature. These young baboons exhibit a keen sense of curiosity, exploring their surroundings and learning essential skills from their family members within large social groups.

Socially, olive baboons are highly gregarious animals, forming large family groups consisting of several dozen individuals. These groups provide protection, support, and opportunities for young baboons to learn essential survival skills. Baboon relationships are often characterized by visual cues and behaviors such as lip-smacking, staring, yawning, and ground slapping, which convey various messages related to communication, greetings, and aggression.

Interestingly, olive baboons have been observed engaging in uncommon behaviors such as swimming. In Nigeria, some olive baboons have been spotted diving from trees into rivers and swimming underwater, showcasing their adaptability and resourcefulness in utilizing different habitats.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Benin
2020
Burkina Faso
2020
Burundi
2020
Cameroon
2020
Central Af. Rep.
2020
Chad
2020
Congo-Brazzaville
2020
Côte D’ivoire
2020
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2020
Eritrea
2020
Ethiopia
2020
Ghana
2020
Guinea
2020
Kenya
2020
Mali
2020
Mauritania
2020
Niger
2020
Nigeria
2020
Rwanda
2020
Sierra Leone
2020
Somalia
2020
South Sudan
2020
Sudan
2020
Tanzania
2020
Togo
2020
Uganda
2020

Did you know?

  • Olive baboons are known to form large family groups that can number in the hundreds. These groups provide excellent conditions for young animals to develop. Baboon infants have a keen sense of curiosity.
  • They are omnivores, opportunists, and incredibly skilled foragers. They are not real carnivores; when they consume meat, it is usually by crashing into it by chance. They don’t usually hunt actively. When it happens, hunting is done singly/solo rather than in a cooperative, organized group, as seen in chimps.
  • Although eating baboon flesh poses serious health risks due to the presence of the Ebola and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in olive Baboons, they are frequently killed for their bushmeat in some local and regional areas, like the western part of their home range.
  • Due to the black, canine-like face of the animal and its similarity to the head of the Egyptian God Anubis (jackal-God), the species is also known as the “Anubis baboon.”
  • Relationships between olive baboons also heavily rely on visual cues. In order to greet each other, the animals frequently slap their lips. Staring, yawning, and slapping the ground are all examples of facial expressions and movements that convey aggression.
  • Although swimming by primates is uncommon, olive baboons (in Nigeria) have been spotted diving from nearby trees overhanging above rivers and swimming with their faces under the water.
  •  60 olive baboons fled from the Auto Safari Andaluz safari park in 1972 when it closed. Local hunters shot and killed 40 of them as the park owner could not capture them before. The survivors were missed for generations until they were found by environmentalists.
  • The olive baboon can reproduce and have viable offspring with the yellow baboon and, on occasion, the Guinea baboon.

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Troops

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No