Baboon Matters Trust
About Baboons in South Africa
Baboon Matters Trust

Baboon Facts

Baboon Facts

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Baboons are not territorial

While a troop will have a traditional home range, this may vary according to food availability – so fires, drought or other phenomena may cause the ranges to change if food sources dry up.

In addition, if baboons are gaining high rewards from concentrated areas such as villages and farms, their natural home ranges may shrink and they may ignore their natural foraging options. This makes perfect sense – why travel far for food when there are easy rewards to be had from human settlements?


Baboons are not predators

Those big teeth are for protecting themselves and their families, not hunting.


What do they eat?


A natural baboon diet includes seeds, bulbs, fruits, berries, grasses, insects and small reptiles like lizards.

Typically, baboons will avoid conflict

Baboons will only engage in a fight if they are directly threatened or cornered, or if the juveniles are threatened. In other words, they will protect themselves and their families, just like humans!

Understanding baboon body language

People often mistake the baboons’ fear grimace for a sign of aggression. Remember baboons are often just as scared as you are – signs of their fear include:

  • the fear grimace – when they pull their lips back from their teeth
  • running with their tail straight up.
  • high pitched screams and frantic movements
  • defecating or urinating

some-babboon-facts-fear-grimace   some-baboon-facts-fear-tail

Do baboons bite people?

No, baboons do not often bite people, but this does NOT mean you should take them for granted in any way. They are wild animals and should be left alone. Treat all animals with respect – do not go into their space and try to touch them, just as you would not appreciate a stranger coming up to you and attempting to touch you!

Do not feed baboons!

encountering-baboons-feedingNever (ever, ever) feed baboons. They do not need your food and in many places it is illegal to feed them. Remember that baboons do not share food amongst themselves – they live in a dominance hierarchy, so if you give your food to a baboon you are showing that individual that you are subordinate! Baboons that are habituated to human food are more likely to come into conflict with humans and more likely to be injured or killed.

Baboons have no road sense

some-baboon-facts-roadBaboons are a common sight on roads and road sides in South Africa – roads provide a tempting array of squashed insect treats!

Please help keep them safe by slowing down when you pass them.

If you stop to watch them, keep windows closed and doors locked – they can be cheeky in their search for easy food.


Jenni Trethowan
084 413 9482




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