Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


Hamadryas baboon © Nick Shields
Hamadryas baboon © Nick Shields
Yellow baboon © Lilongwe Wildlife Centre
Yellow baboon © Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

Baboons are some of the largest terrestrial monkey species; only the mandrill and the drill (Africa’s most endangered primate) are larger.  Powerful and intimidating, this ground-dwelling genus are adapted to walking long distances on the ground, and are sometimes known as the ‘dog-faced monkeys’ due to their distinctive dog-like muzzle.

All baboons have close-set eyes under heavy brow ridges, powerful jaws and long, sharp upper canine teeth.  Their fur is thick, except on their muzzle, and in some species males have a mane about the head and shoulders.  The tail is short and brightly coloured rough spots on their protruding hindquarters provide cushioning as sitting is the baboons’ favoured position for feeding and sleeping.

There are five species of baboon that occur throughout  sub-Saharan Africa and into the western edge of the Arabian Peninsula: the olive baboon Papio anubis, the yellow baboon Papio cynocephalus,  the Guinea baboon Papio papio, the hamadryas baboon Papio hamadryas and the chacma baboon Papio ursinus .

Because baboons are inquisitive, occur in large terrestrial groups and are not restricted to closed forest, they easily habituate to human presence.  Known to subsist even in urban areas, they often come into conflict with humans, opportunistically stealing crops or food. As a result they are regarded as pests and in some parts of Africa, persecuted.



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