Yellow Baboon Yellow Baboon
Yellow Baboon

Scientific Classification

Common Name
yellow baboon
Genus Species
Papio (baboon) cynocephalus (dog-like face and head)

Fast Facts

Primate with course tan fur covering their body; face protrudes similar to a dog's muzzle
Head & body length: 60 to 72.5 cm (24 to 29 in.)
Tail length: 56 to 84 cm (22 to 34 in.)
Male: 27 to 44 kg (59 to 97 lbs.)
Female: 14 to 17 kg (31 to 37 lbs.)
Omnivorous and opportunistic
6 months
Sexual Maturity
Male: 8 to 10 years
Female: 4 to 5 years
Life Span
Average roughly 20 to 30 years
Sub-Sahara Africa
Savannas and arid zones
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Baboons have complex social structures with anywhere from 8 to 200 individuals per troop. They use at least 10 different vocalizations to communicate.
  2. When traveling as a group, males will lead; females and young stay safe in the middle and less dominant males bring up the rear.
  3. Highly opportunistic eaters, baboons will eat almost any food they come across including small mammals such as ground-nesting birds, hares, and even baby antelope. They will also eat roots, tubers, and even crustaceans or other marine life near the shore.
  4. A baboon group's hierarchy is such a serious matter, some sub-species have developed interesting behaviors intended to avoid confrontation and retaliation. For example, males have frequently been documented using infants as a kind of "passport" for safe approach toward another male. One male will pick up the infant and hold it up as it nears the other male. This action often calms heated nerves and allows the former male to approach safely.
  5. The swollen, colored genitalia on the females during estrous serves to attract potential mates during this fertile time. Experiments show males receptiveness toward females is directly correlated to the size of the swelling, regardless of the female's behavior.
  6. With canines up to two inches long, adult males will take on just about any small predators. A lone male is able to intimidate and chase away an animal as large as a jackal. In fact, larger cats such as leopards are the only main predatorial threat (other than humans) and fierce dominant males will still gang up and harass such intruders until they retreat.
  7. The difference between apes and monkeys is easy to spot once you know what to look for. Apes do not have a tail and are generally larger than most other primates. They have a more upright body posture as well.

Ecology and Conservation

They are important in their natural environment not only serving as food for larger predators, but also aiding in seed dispersal due to their messy foraging habits. They are also efficient predators of smaller animals and their young, keeping some animals populations in check.

Due to their extremely opportunistic lifestyle, baboons have been able to fill a tremendous number of different ecological niches, including places considered adverse to other animals such as regions taken over by human settlement. Thus, they are one of the most successful African primates and are not listed as threatened or endangered. However, the same behavioral adaptations that make them so successful also cause them to be considered pests by humans in many areas. Raids on farmer's crops and other such intrusions into human settlements have made baboons subject to organized extermination projects. It is important to remember however, that habitat loss is the driving force behind baboons' migration toward areas of human settlement.


Estes, D.E. The Behavior Guide to African mammals. Univ. Of Calif. Press. Berkley, CA. 1992.

Parker, S. Grzimck's Encyclopedia of Mammals. McGraw-Hill Pub. Co., NY. Vol. 2. 1990.

Preston, R. And K. Mafhan. Primates of the World. Facts of File, Inc., NY. 1992.

Preston-Mafham, Rod and Ken. Primates of the World. Sterling Pub., New York. 1999.

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force.