Hamadryas baboons, also known as the sacred baboon were considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians .The Hamadryas baboon is distinguished from other baboons by the male’s long, silver-grey shoulder cape, and the pink or red face and rump. The male is considerably larger (16.9-25.1kg) than the female (9.9-13.3kg). Males have a heavy cape, bushy cheeks, and large canines. Females develop colourful and pronounced sexual swellings during oestrous, and the skin over the rump becomes bright red during pregnancy.
Habitat and Distribution
This species inhabits arid subdesert, steppe, hillsides, escarpments, and mountains bordering the Red Sea, generally at altitudes up to 1,500 m. However, it appears to be seasonally migratory in at least some parts of its range in Ethiopia, where bands may move up into neighbouring mountainous areas (up to 3,300 m in the Simien Mountains National Park) in the wet season. This species is dependent on water, and is never found far from water sources. The basic social unit consists of one male and several females.
This species is abundant, with the majority of the population in Ethiopia, and may even have increased because of loss of predators and small-scale agriculture.
It is an opportunistic omnivore, and seasonally important foods include grass, buds, invertebrates, and the fruits of desert plants (notably heglig Balanites and buffalo thorn Ziziphus).
Breeding and Lifecycle
The female hamadryas baboon usually gives birth to a single young, after a gestation period of 170 to 173 days. Breeding may take place at any time of year,and each female usually only gives birth once every 15 to 24 months. Lifespan in captivity has been recorded at 37 years.
Baboons have a complex multi-level social structure and fission-fusion groups. The basic unit of social organization is the OMU, or one male unit, in which a central male, the leader, aggressively herds and controls from one to nine females and their offspring. Members of an OMU forage together, travel together, and sleep together.
Two to three OMUs come together to form clans. The males found in a clan are thought to be close genetic relatives of one another, based both on phenotypic resemblance and genetic similarity.
Two or three clans form a single band. Bands exhibit stable membership, even if membership in lower levels of social organization is not stable. Males and females typically do not disperse beyond the boundaries of the band. Bands of Hamadryas baboons appear to have an important function in allowing the baboons to compete for sleeping sites and for access to water holes. Male OMU leaders begin each day by “coordinating” with one another regarding the location of the specific watering hole at which the band will reunite at midday.
Troops of Hamadryas Baboons may contain several bands. Troops are aggregations of baboons that utilize the same sleeping cliffs or rocks. It is unlikely that the troop has any social significance to the animals themselves.
Gippoliti, S. & Ehardt, T. 2008. Papio hamadryas. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 January 2012
Shefferly, N. 2004. “Papio hamadryas” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 20, 2009 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Papio_hamadryas.html
Archive.Org (Online) Accessed 3/1/2011 at http://www.arkive.org/hamadryas-baboon/papio-hamadryas/#text=Facts