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Gelada Baboon

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 This striking and unmistakable baboon is the most common of Ethiopia's endemic large mammal species, with the population estimated by some as high as 400.000.

The male is a spectacularly handsome beast, possessed of an imposing golden mane and heart-shaped red chest patch. This singular primate is unique in that it feeds predominantly on grasses. It is a very sociable monkey too! Conglomerations of 500 or more can be easily seen while walking along the cliffs of the Semien Mountain National Park

They are very tame and will allow humans to approach very close to the troop before moving nearer to the cliff edge. You will sure enjoy the stay close to them!

The German naturalist and explorer Eduard  Ruppell studied in 1835 the Gelada baboon (Thercopithecus gelada). He named it by the local name used by the inhabitants. They are not difficult at all to study as they are very tame. 

Gelada baboons live along the edges and steep slopes of precipices. As they never move far from the rim, their distribution is linear along the escarpment. At night they climb down the steep cliff faces to caves where they roost on ledges, often huddled close together for warmth as nights in Semien mountains are frosty and bitterly cold. Babies cling tight to their mothers even in sleep. In the morning in the warm sun they climb up again to the top of the cliff and spread out to feed. Gelada baboons are mainly vegetarian, living on herbs, grasses and roots, but they also eat insects and locusts. They never eat meat, or hunt or kill even small birds or mammals. As a result of this restricted diet they are obliged to spend a very high percentage of their lives foraging and browsing in order to obtain sufficient nutrients to survive. This may explain why they are so extremely peaceable by nature, with very little squabbling even amongst themselves. Their only natural enemy is the leopard. They live in peace with 'Man'. In ancient times however, the great mane of the male was used for traditional headdresses by highland warriors.

Apart from feeding, "grooming" is their other main pastime. This entails simply picking through each others fur. This is not only a friendly and peaceful occupation, but it serves also to establish bonds between various members of a 'harem' and to cement the accepted relationships in the hierarchy, between male and female, older and younger members.