The Olive Baboon, also called the ANUBIS BABOON, is a member of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys), is found in 25 countries throughout Africa, extending from Mali eastward to Ethiopia and Tanzania. Isolated populations are also found in some mountainous regions of the Sahara. It inhabits savannahs, steppes and forests.
The Olive Baboon is named for its coat, which, at a distance, is a shade of green-grey. Its alternate name comes from the Egyptian God Anubis, who was often represented by a dog-head resembling the dog-like muzzle of the baboon. At closer range, its coat is multi-coloured, due to rings of yellow-brown and black on the hairs. The hair of the baboon’s face, however, is coarser and ranges from dark grey to black. This colouration is shared by both sexes, although males have a mane of longer hair that tapers down to ordinary length along the back.
Besides the mane, the male Olive Baboon differs from the female in terms of size and weight and canine tooth size. Males are, on average 28 inches tall while standing and females measure 24 inches in height. The Olive Baboon is one of the largest species of monkey, only the Mandrill attains a similar size. The head-and-body length can range from 20-45 inches. Like other baboons, the Olive Baboon has an elongated dog-like muzzle. In fact, along with the muzzle, the animal’s tail (15-23 inches) and four-legged gait can make baboons seem very ‘canine’. The Olive Baboon has a cheek pouch in which to store food.
The Olive Baboon lives in groups of 15-150, made up of a few males, many females and their young. Each baboon ahs a social ranking somewhere in the group, depending on its dominance. Female dominance is hereditary, with daughters having nearly the same rank as their mothers., with adult females forming the ‘core’ of the social system. Related females are largely friendly with each other. They tend to stay close to each other, groom one another, as well as team up in aggressive encounters with other troop members.
Olive Baboons communicate with various vocalizations and facial expressions. Throughout the day, baboons of all ages emit the “basic grunt”. In addition, other calls given by adults include the “roar-grunt”, “cough-bark” and “cough-geck”. The latter 2 are made when unknown humans or low-flying birds are sighted, and the former is made by adult males displaying to each other. A “wa-hoo” call is made responding to predators or neighbouring groups at night and during stressful situations. Other vocalizations include “broken-grunt”, “pant-grunt”, “shrill-bark” and “screams”.
The most common facial expression of the Olive Baboon is “lip-smacking”, “tongue protrusion”, “jaw clapping”, “ear flattening”, “eyes narrowed” and “head shaking” —— used when baboons are greeting each other. “Staring”, “eyebrow raising”, “yawning” and “molar grinding” are used to threaten other baboons. A submissive baboon will respond with displays such as the “rigid crouch”, “tail erect” and “fear grin”. —– The Olive Baboon is not bound to a specific food source. It is an omnivore and is able to adapt with different foraging tactics. It virtually eats everything it finds——– grass, roots, tubers, corns, rhizomes, mushrooms, fruits, seeds, even small mammals as well as birds. Hunting is usually a group activity, with both males and females participating.
In Eritrea, the Olive baboon has formed a symbiotic relationship with the country’s endangered elephant population. The Baboon uses the water-holes dug by the elephants, while the elephants use the tree-top baboons as an early warning system.
The Baboon is listed as LEAST CONCERN by the IUCN, because this species is very wide-spread and abundant an although persecuted as a crop-raider, there are no major threats believed to be resulting in a range-wide population decline.