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Latin name: Papio Anubis, Known Taxonomically From the Cercopithecidae Family
Olive baboons, derived their name from the olive appearance of their fur, which is noticeable when viewing the baboon from a distance. With an extensive habitat range on the continent of Africa, olive baboon troops can be found in twenty five different countries stretching from Sierra Leone in the west to parts of Mogadishu in the East.
With an average height of seventy centimeters, males are twice as tall and twice as heavy as females. With more comfortable conditions in captivity olive baboons can grow bigger and longer, with some baboons living to thirty years of age.
Diet, Posture and Habitat
Troops of olive baboons can live in varied habitat from tropical rain forest and dry forests to dry savannas. They prefer lower hanging trees, often being found in branches of acacias. While walking slowly, olive baboons use a hand digitigrade posture, with heels not touching the ground. Their feet move in a semi-digitigrade posture with parts of the heel sometimes touching the ground.
Olive baboons, are omnivorous which is a good reason for their successful dispersion across Africa. They will feed on vegetation and small vertebrates such as frogs. They are clever at preparing foods for eating which other animals may not find palatable. A good example is the prickly pear, which they shake from trees and roll on the ground so the spikes fall off. If they get the chance they’ll also prey on birds, small primates such as rabbits, gazelles (if they find a fresh kill) and other types of monkeys.
They can even eat tree bark, grass and leaves. Surprisingly they will also kill small livestock like goats, infuriating farming communities. They too, will forage in humans waste for food scraps.
Olive Baboon Troops
An olive baboon troop can vary in size from around twenty to a hundred and fifty sole baboons. They live in a hierarchical society, where males constantly compete to be the leader of the troop. The troop fear his stare and that prevents him from resorting to violence. The leader will sometimes step aside peacefully, after he has sired infants. While male baboons will often find a new troop after five years female baboons will remain in their troop for life.
Their hair is thick and short, while black eyes sit deeply behind a deep brow. Males have a longer dark mane than females that fades towards the tail. A cheek pouch allows them to store food when foraging. The dog-like muzzle of the olive baboon is the reason for it’s Latin name ‘Anubis’ who was the Egyptian good who had a dog’s head.
The baboons, will start walking to feeding grounds at mid morning, typically walking a few kilometers at a time. The more important baboons will stay in the center protected by baboons on the periphery. Their loud calls, known as barks can be heard a third of a mile away and allows them to keep in touch with others of the troop.
Males who have recently joined the troop have the useful benefit of know different feeding grounds to introduce the troop to. After feeding they will rest and groom each other. At sunset they wind down for the day. Self grooming or partner grooming has particular health benefits. Ticks and insects are removed from fur and hair may be removed from any skin cuts, preventing infection.
Olive Baboons in Literature
“The tree was alive with moving figures that were falling from its branches like many careening coconuts. Underneath, the falling masses, the burly lions wrestled desperate to be free. Blackened shapes clung onto their tail tips to their skulls. What were these brave creatures? Sharp stars stabbed through black cloud, casting weak light on the amazing scene. It came to him in a fit. They were olive baboons from the savannah.”The Zambezi Allies by E.G. Price