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6 Types of Baboons: Species, Facts and Photos

Baboons, with their distinguishing dog-like muzzles, heavy jaws, and short tails, exhibit a vast diversity in appearance and habitat. Read on to explore these distinctions in depth. 

Baboon Classification

Baboons are Old World monkeys of the genus Papio. Six distinct species are primarily found in Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Previously, there were only five species. In 2020, a phylogenetic study elevated the Kinda baboon from a yellow baboon subspecies to a full species1.

All baboon species exhibit pronounced body features, from dog-like muzzles, close-set eyes, and calloused buttocks. Adult males are also larger and have longer canine teeth. The following sections discuss the distinctions among the species.

Related Read: Baboon Facts.

6 Types of Baboon Species

1. Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)

Olive Baboon
Photo by Charles J. Sharp on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Olive Baboon has a green-grey coat that can be seen from afar. It lives in 25 African countries, mainly in the Sahel, which connects the Sahara in the north and the Sudanian Savanna in the south. 

Olive Baboons can also live in wilderness and urban areas. They consume grasses, roots, insects, and small antelopes. They also eat fruits and disperse seeds to help maintain ecological balance.  

Regarding social behavior, Olive Baboons live in groups ranging from 15 to 150 members. They follow a strict pecking order communicated through sounds, body movements, and facial expressions. 

2. Yellow Baboon (Papio cynocephalus)

Yellow Baboon
Photo by Esculapio on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

The Yellow Baboon, or Savannah Baboon, is a primate in eastern Africa in regions such as Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The animal's distinct yellowish-brown coat helps it blend into its surroundings. 

Moreover, these savannah baboons live in organized social structures known as troops. The highest-ranking male is the leader, enjoying the best food and mating privileges. 

3. Chacma Baboon (Papio ursinus)

Chacma Baboon
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Chacma Baboon is a large baboon species in southern Africa. They have a muscular build, long, sloping face, and fur that ranges from dark brown to gray and lightens on the belly. 

Moreover, male Chacmas have mane-like neck hair, and their large canine teeth hint at their varied diet, including fruits, seeds, insects, and occasionally small antelopes. This type of baboon is diurnal and retreats to the safety of trees at night. They only need a water source and a safe sleeping spot for their home. 

Chacma Baboons live in troops that can number up to 150, with a clear pecking order maintained through complex communication methods. They make various vocalizations, facial expressions, and body postures. 

They exhibit excellent problem-solving skills, especially when finding food. However, they are often at odds with humans because they raid crops.

4. Guinea Baboon (Papio papio)

Guinea Baboon
Photo by Jakub Friedl on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original).

The Guinea Baboon is a social primate species in West Africa, particularly in Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania. They are smaller than other baboon species and are primarily terrestrial. Another distinct physical trait is their bare, bright red buttocks, which become more pronounced during breeding.

They have a lively social life, often sharing food within their troop. During daylight hours, they forage, explore their surroundings, and interact socially. Regarding diet, they eat various fruits, leaves, insects, and occasionally, small mammals and reptiles. 

5. Hamadryas Baboon (Papio hamadryas)

 Hamadryas Baboon
Photo by Bernard Spragg. NZ on Flickr (Public Domain).

The Hamadryas Baboon, or Sacred Baboon, is an Old World monkey species found in the Horn of Africa and the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. They are closely related to the northern baboon species: Guinea and olive baboons.

The Hamadryas Baboon species also have silver-grey or brown coats. Moreover, males feature a mane or 'cape' of long hair that elegantly drapes over their neck and shoulders. 

They follow a complex social structure comprising clans, bands, and troops. A dominant male leads each clan and courts the females in his group. 

Hamadryas baboons feed on fruits, grasses, roots, leaves, seeds, insects, and occasionally small mammals and birds. They can survive rocky terrains to open savannas and sub-deserts as long as they can access water. 

6. Kinda Baboon (Papio kindae)

Kinda Baboon
Photo by Kenneth Chiou on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Cropped from original).

The Kinda Baboon lives in Angola, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is smaller and leaner compared to other baboon species, with a less pronounced muzzle and petite, rounded ears. 

They spend daylight hours foraging for fruits, seeds, insects, and small mammals. At night, they seek refuge in trees and cliffs to avoid predators. 

This type of baboon lives in troops of several males, females, and their offspring, with a pecking order that puts the strongest males and females at the top. Moreover, female baboons form close-knit groups with other females. The females care for each other's young, while male baboons travel from troop to troop searching for a suitable mate.

Conclusion

Baboons shape their ecosystems through social behavior, food choices, and survival abilities. However, human activities threaten the survival of baboon populations. 

We must help protect baboons and their habitats by learning about their behaviors and valuing their role in maintaining biodiversity.

1

Roos, C., Knauf, S., Chuma, I. S., Maille, A., Callou, C., Sabin, R., Miguez, R. P., & Zinner, D. (2020). New mitogenomic lineages in Papio baboons and their phylogeographic implications. American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 174(3), 407–417.

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Photo by syamhari syamhari on Pexels.
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