With a body length of 50–115 cm (20–45 in) and tail length of 33–85 cm (13–33 in), the male Chamca perhaps the longest species of monkey. It also one of the heaviest, since males can weigh from 21 to 45 kg (46 to 99 lb). Baboons are sexually dimorphic, males being considerably larger than females. The female weighs from 12 to 25 kg (26 to 55 lb). It is of similar size to the Olive baboon and similar weight to the more compact mandrill, the latter usually crowned the largest of all monkeys. The Chacma is generally dark brown to gray in color, with a patch of rough hair on the nape of its neck. Unlike the northern baboon species (the Guinea, Hamadryas, and Olive baboons), Chacma males do not have a mane. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of this baboon is its long, downward sloping face. Males can have canine teeth as long as 2 inches (longer than a lion's canine teeth).
The Chacma baboon is found in southern Africa, ranging from South Africa north to Angola, Zambia, and Mozambique. Size and color vary within that range. The Cape Chacma (P. ursinus ursinus) from southern South Africa is a large, heavy, dark brown baboon with black feet. Another subspecies, the Gray-footed Chacma (P. u. griseipes), is present from northern South Africa to southern Zambia. It is slightly smaller than the Cape Chacma, lighter in color and build, and has gray feet. The Ruacana Chacma (P. u. ruacana) is found in Namibia and southern Angola, and generally appears to be a smaller, less darkly colored version of the Cape Chacma.
A dominant male baboon calls to his pride
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
Chacmas usually live in social groups composed of multiple adult males, adult females, and their offspring. Occasionally, however, very small groups form that include only a single adult male and several adult females. Chacma troops are characterized by a dominance hierarchy. Female ranking within the troop is inherited through the mother and remains quite fixed, while male ranking is often in flux, especially when the dominant male is replaced. Chacmas are unusual among baboons in that neither males nor females form strong relationships with members of the same sex. Instead, the strongest social bonds are often between unrelated adult males and females. Infanticide is also common compared to other baboons species, as newly dominant males will often attempt to kill young baboons sired by the previously dominant male. Baboon troops possess a complex group behavior and communicate by means of body attitudes, facial expressions, vocalisations and touch.
Chacmas inhabit a wide array of habitats, from the grassy alpine slopes of the Drakensberg to the Kalahari desert. The Chacma baboon is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, while also eating insects, seeds, grass and smaller vertebrate animals. The Chacma baboon is generally a scavenger when it comes to game meat and rarely engages in hunting large animals. There has been one incident where a Chacma baboon has killed a human infant, however the event is so rare the locals believed it was due to witchcraft. Normally Chacma baboons will flee at the approach of humans. This has been changing due to the easy availability of food where there is interaction with humans.
The Chacma baboon is widespread and does not rank among threatened animal species. However, in some confined locations such as South Africa's Southern Cape Peninsula, local populations are dwindling due to habitat loss, as well as predation from other protected species, such as leopards and lions. Some troops have become a suburban menace, overturning trash cans and entering houses in their search for food. These animals can be aggressive and dangerous, such negative encounters have resulted in frustrated local residents resorting to hunting them. It is thought that this isolated population will face extinction within 10 years.
The Chacma is considered to be potentially threatened under C.I.T.E.S Appendix 2, if populations are not monitored. The only area in South Africa where they are monitored is in the Cape Peninsula where they are protected.
Observations by those working hands-on in South Africa's rehabilitation centres, have found that this species is damaged by human intervention; troop structures are influenced and over the years there has been a significant loss in numbers. Because they live near human habitats, baboons are shot, poisoned, electrocuted, run over and captured for the pet industry, research laboratories and muthi (medicine).
Snaring primates and other species for bushmeat has become a growing problem around poverty stricken areas.
- Papio ursinus ursinus Kerr, 1792 – Cape Chacma (found in southern South Africa)
- Papio ursinus griseipes Pocock, 1911 – Gray-footed Chacma (found in northern South Africa to southern Zambia)
- Papio ursinus raucana Shortridge, 1942 – Ruacana Chacma (found from Namibia to southern Angola)
In Popular Culture
In 2011, the British Television Channel ITV1 aired an eight episode mini-series, hosted by popular British comedian Bill Bailey, with exclusive features from the series on itvWILD. The series followed the lives of three different family groups of Chacma baboons in South Africa. The series focuses on the baboons' abilities of adaptation to human settlement and their complex social-lives. It is generally structured within a narrative, with each adult baboon having a name and being treated as an 'actor' in the story. The three families of baboons have each developed their own ways of life, the 'Smitz' group spends most its time trying to rob food from tourists along a coastal highway, the 'Tokai' group has remained in a more natural forest area, while the 'Da Gama' group lives on the rooftops of an apartment complex. The program is the second attempt of Bailey to produce a semi-serious nature documentary and it has received good reviews.
- Groves, C. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 167. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=12100588.
- Hoffmann, M. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (2008). Papio ursinus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 4 January 2009.
- Burnie D and Wilson DE (Eds.), Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. DK Adult (2005), ISBN 0789477645
- Chacma baboon videos, photos and facts – Papio ursinus. ARKive. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
- Kingdon, Jonathan Kingdon Guide to African Mammals (1993) ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9
- Chacma Baboons (Papio ursinus). Theprimata.com (2007-06-17). Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
- Dechow, PC (1983). "Estimation of body weights from craniometric variables in baboons". American journal of physical anthropology 60 (1): 113–23. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330600116. PMID 6869499. http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/37620/1/1330600116_ftp.pdf.
- Jolly CJ (1993). WH Kimbel and LB Martins, eds.. ed. Species, Species Concepts, and Primate Evolution. New York: Plenum Press.
- Groves C (2001). Primate Taxonomy. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- Byrne RW, Whiten A, Henzi SP (1987). "One male groups and intertroop interactions of mountain baboons". International Journal of Primatology 8: 615–633. doi:10.1007/BF02735780.
- Henzi P, Barrett L (2003). "Evolutionary ecology, sexual conflict, and behavioral differentiation among baboon populations". Evolutionary Anthropology 12: 217–230. doi:10.1002/evan.10121.
- Dhlamini, Dan (2003-08-06). "Witchcraft, says baby's mom". http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,6119,2-7-1442_1370720,00.html. Retrieved 2007-12-15.
- Lorna Thomas (2006). "Working to Save South Africa's Chacma Baboons". http://www.gonomad.com/helps/0601/baboons.html. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- "Leopard and Lion predation upon Chacma baboons living in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve". curtbusse.com. http://www.curtbusse.com/pubs/Busse1980.html.
- CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA. Appendices I, II and III. valid from 1 July 2008. UNEP
- Chacma Baboon TrekNature
- ITV1. "Baboons with Bill Bailey". itvWILD. ITV. http://www.itvwild.com/tvshows/baboons-with-bill-bailey. Retrieved 9. June 2011.
- Hall, Jon (8 April 2011). "TV review: Baboons with Bill Bailey". Edinburgh Evening News. http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/features/TV-review-Baboons-with-Bill.6748330.jp. Retrieved 09.06.2011.