|Calls recorded in Ramis, Kenya|
|Distribution of yellow baboon|
Simia cynocephalus Linnaeus, 1766
The yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus) is a baboon in the family of Old World monkeys. The species epithet literally means "dog-head" in Greek, due to the shape of the muzzle and head. They have slim bodies with long arms and legs, and yellowish-brown hair. They resemble the Chacma baboon, but are smaller with a less elongated muzzle. Their hairless faces are black, framed with white sideburns. Males can grow to about 84 cm, females to about 60 cm. They have long tails which grow to be nearly as long as their bodies. Their life spans are roughly 20–30 years.
Yellow baboons inhabit savannas and light forests in eastern Africa, from Kenya and Tanzania to Zimbabwe and Botswana. They are diurnal, terrestrial, and live in complex, mixed-gender social groups of eight to 200 individuals per troop. They are omnivorous with a preference for fruits, but also eat other plant parts, as well as insects. Baboons are highly opportunistic eaters and will eat almost any food they come across.
Yellow baboons use at least 10 different vocalizations to communicate. When traveling as a group, males will lead, females and young stay safe in the middle, and less-dominant males bring up the rear. A baboon group's hierarchy is such a serious matter, and some subspecies have developed interesting behaviors intended to avoid confrontation and retaliation. For example, males have frequently been documented using infants as a kind of "passport" for safe approach toward another male. One male will pick up the infant and hold it up as it nears the other male. This action often calms the other male and allows the first male to approach safely.
Baboons are important in their natural environment, not only serving as food for larger predators, but also aiding in seed dispersal due to their messy foraging habits. They are also efficient predators of smaller animals and their young, keeping some animals' populations in check.
Baboons have been able to fill a tremendous number of different ecological niches, including places considered adverse to other animals, such as regions taken over by human settlement. Thus, they are one of the most successful African primates and are not listed as threatened or endangered. However, the same behavioral adaptations that make them so successful also cause them to be considered pests by humans in many areas. Raids on farmers' crops and other such intrusions into human settlements have made baboons subject to organized exterminations projects. However, habitat loss is the driving force behind baboons' migration toward areas of human settlement.
The three subspecies of the yellow baboon are:
- Papio cynocephalus cynocephalus (typical yellow baboon)
- Papio cynocephalus ibeanus (Ibean baboon)
- Papio cynocephalus kindae (Kinda baboon)
- Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 166. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494.
- Kingdon, J.; Butynski, T.M.; De Jong, Y. (2016). "Papio cynocephalus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T92250442A92250811. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
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