2 Oct 2019

Hamadryas Baboon – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birding the Raydah Escarpment near Abha in southwest Saudi Arabia I saw a number of groups of Hamadryas Baboon Papio hamadryasa species that is common in the Abha / Tanoumah area of the Asir Mountains with large groups seen all along the escarpments. It is the northernmost of all the baboons and is distinguished from other baboons by the male’s long, silver-grey shoulder cape (mane and mantle), and the pink or red rather than black face and rump. Males may have a body measurement of up to 80 cm and weigh 20–30 kg. They occur from north-eastern Africa, mainly in Ethiopia, but also eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia as well as the Arabian Peninsula, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen where it is the only native non-human primate. In Saudi Arabia they inhabit arid sub-desert, steppe, hilly areas, escarpments at elevations of up to 3,000 metres requiring cliffs for sleeping and finding water. They are primarily terrestrial but will sleep in trees or on cliffs at night. Each adult male controls a small group of females (a harem) and their young and remains bonded with the same females over several years, aggressively ‘herding’ any that wander, and retaining exclusive mating rights over the group. The baboons would occasionally push rocks down the mountainside to try to move us away from their feeding areas and had quite a few young with them such as the one shown in the photograph below.

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