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MammalMAP: Olive baboons
Olive baboons (Papio anubis) are called so because of the greenish-grey coat that covers their bodies. Males have manes forming from the top of their heads through to their shoulders, the hair gradually shortening towards the back. Olive baboons also have dark grey to black faces, ears as well as ischial callosities (the thick piece of skin on their bums). They also have long, pointed muzzles, and appear quite dog-like, especially because of their quadrupedal posture and movement. Olives have very, very long tails, between 41 and 58 cm long!
With a length between 60 to 86 cm, and weighing between 15 to 30 kg, olive baboons are one of the larger baboon species, with males being about twice as large as females. Males also have large canine teeth.
Olive baboons have the largest range of all baboons, and are widespread throughout equatorial Africa, present in 25 countries. They are very adaptable and inhabit savannah areas, as well as large grassland plains and even evergreen tropical forests. They live in troops of generally between 20 and 50 members, but can sometimes consist of over 100 baboons, troop size usually determined by environmental conditions and food availability.
During the day they mostly spend their time on the ground, foraging for food, but at night they make their way up to mountain rocks or trees to avoid predators, which include large cats, hyenas, wild dogs, chimpanzees and crocodiles.
Olive baboons are omnivorous and find food on the ground, in trees and underground. Their diet consists out of grass, leaves, fruit, seeds, grains, tubers, invertebrates and even mammals, up to the size of small antelopes. Both males and females hunt.
In many areas, sadly, raiding of agricultural crops and feeding on garbage and human refuse are increasing as human populations are increasing. This close proximity to humans has been found to influence group behaviour, and it may even influence the social structure of these baboons.
Olive baboons have a gestation period of 180 days, after which one infant is born. Males compete regularly to copulate with females who are receptive for about one week a month.
For more interesting info on the olive baboon, please visit Dr. Shirley C. Strum’s website, Baboons R Us. Dr. Strum has done over 30 years of studies on these amazing primates, so she really knows about as much there is to know about them!