Chacma Baboon

Papio ursinus ursinus

The Chacma Baboon is the biggest wild primate occurring in South Africa. Males can weigh up to 50kg, while females are more lightly built and weigh up to 28kg.

Baboons can be found in virtually any habitat, provided there is a reliable supply of drinking water and safe places to sleep at night (usually in the form of tall trees, cliffs or caves). They are equally easy to please when it comes to their diet, taking fruit, berries, grass, leaves, flowers, mushrooms, roots and tubers, insects, scorpions, snails, eggs, small birds, reptiles and mammals (including the lambs of antelope) and, along the coast, molluscs, crayfish, crabs, etc. Unfortunately they quickly learn that humans and their waste is an easy source of food, and in many reserves, towns and cities have become quite adept at raiding human habitations.

Chacma Baboons keep to large troops, some over 300 animals in size, in which a strict hierarchy is maintained, sometimes through violent fights. This dominance hierarchy determines where an individual will feature when it comes to access to food, water, sleeping spots and mating partners. They also forge alliances and friendships strengthened by mutual grooming. Lower ranking adult males take turns to act as sentinels on the look-out for danger. Chacma Baboons are diurnal and mainly terrestrial and troops can cover as much as 15km in a day while foraging. Because they have such keen senses Baboons are often accompanied by other herbivores.

Female Baboons give birth to single young (rarely twins) at any time of the year. Newborn babies hang from their mother’s tummy when she’s walking, while older babies ride on her back like a jockey. Youngsters remain dependant on their mother until they are at least a year old. Females remain in their maternal troop when they reach adulthood, while young males join other troops. All animals in the troop are extremely protective of babies, and when attacked by a predator the large males will usually launch a counter attack. Leopards are the main threat to adult baboons, but they are not easy prey by any means. Chacma Baboons have a life expectancy of up to 45 years in the wild.

The IUCN regards the Chacma Baboon as being of least concern in conservation terms. Despite being persecuted as vermin in farming areas and suburbs, the Chacma Baboon remains common and widespread, and is one of the few large mammals still regularly encountered outside the formal conservation areas in South Africa. They can be found in virtually every nature reserve and national park in the country, but in our experience they are most easily viewed at the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Garden Route National Park, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg National Park and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. Chacma Baboons also occur in Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho.

 

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22 thoughts on “Chacma Baboon

  1. Nature on the Edge

    Love this selection of pics! Looking at their physique they are definitely slimmer and taller in build than our bulky Cape Peninsula ‘beachbums’ with their sun bleached fur. Have you ever seen baboons hunt or kill / eat mammals? Buck young, dassies?

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Liz!

      We’ve noticed that the baboons of the Drakensberg and Golden Gate have much shaggier coats than those living in the Lowveld and Zululand – must be an adaptation to the colder climes.

      And indeed, we’ve seen baboons tear apart steenbok, impala and nyala lambs – very gruesome scenes!

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      1. Nature on the Edge

        Was curious about the carnivorous side of their diet and source of protein. Gruesome i can just imagine! On occasion here on the Peninsula have seen the odd baboon filch filleted fish from the fishermen when gutting their catch on land.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Those Cape Town baboons are notorious for their thieving exploits, but again it is because humans push them into ever tighter corners by robbing them of their natural habitat and food sources.

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  2. petrujviljoen

    Daar’s ‘n klein trop wat nou weer hier rondloop. Ek ken die alpha male al. Of herken hom ten minste. Hy’s baie arrogant. Ek verjaag hulle deesdae, ek is besig met ‘n gedoente in die tuin agter en wil nie hê die trop moet in die jaart kom en dit verniel nie. Ek blaf terug vir hom en gooi klippe dat dit bars. Gelukkig luister hulle en na ‘n ruk verdwyn hulle net om die volgende dag weer terug te wees. Hulle het geleer om vir mense bang te wees hier. Ek bly op ‘n kommersiele denne plantasie se gronde en die bobbejane kan die dennebome sleg verniel wat groot skade vir die plantasie veroorsaak. Die bobbejane word geskiet as dit te erg raak. Niemand stem saam daarmee nie, maar skynbaar is daar nie ‘n ander plan nie. Waaroor die bobbejane bang is vir mense hier. Dis Komatiland se grond. Ek’s reg by die Berlyn waterval.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Weer n geval waar ons eintlik self vir die “probleemdiere” verantwoordelik is deur hul natuurlike habitat grootliks met plantasies te vervang, is dit nie Petru?

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  3. John

    Great photos you’ve taken! 🙂 Especially with the kids playing in the trees, I’ve never seen that before. The baboons seem more calm and peaceful than other baboons that I’ve seen on television.

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  4. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Ooooo, daardie eerste foto is tipies bobbejaan se kind! Die klomp “kindertjies” laat my dink aan die klomp kleintjies by die skool. Hul het n hele eie speelplek vol met klimapparate. Ai, dit laat my terugdink en onthou dat die bobbejane in die berge om Potgietersrus met tye ge-boggom het vroeg oggend en ook saans! Glo nie daar is meer wat wild loop nie. Nou onthou ek ook , ek het op Steilloop, eintlik meet Zaaiplaats skool gehou. Troppie bobbejane het een oggend kom kyk hoe kinders skoolgaan. Kinders het natuurlik weer gaan kyk wat hulle daar doen. Ons moes net keer of hul het handgemeen geraak met mekaar.(jy weet hoe kinders is. Sê, moenie dit doen nie dan doen hul dit!)

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