Gelada baboons, Ethiopia

by site editor Rick McCharles

I hiked the Simien mountains in northern Ethiopia with Joshua and Nadine from Edmonton. They are nurses living in Africa for the past 2 years, putting together a rural Health Clinic in Burundi.

The biggest highlight was hanging out with Geladas, the friendliest simians anywhere.

Simien - Josh and Nadine-28

Simien - Josh and Nadine-26

Geladas are found only in the high grassland of the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau. They live in elevations 1,800–4,400 m above sea level, using the cliffs for sleeping and montane grasslands for foraging. …

Geladas are the only primates that are primarily graminivores and grazers – grass blades make up to 90% of their diet. They eat both the blades and the seeds of grasses. …

Geladas are primarily diurnal. At night, they sleep on the ledges of cliffs. At sunrise, they leave the cliffs and travel to the tops of the plateaus to feed and socialize …

The gelada is large and robust. It is covered with buff to dark brown, coarse hair and has a dark face with pale eyelids. Its arms and feet are nearly black. Its short tail ends in a tuft of hair …

… males average 18.5 kg (40.8 lb) while females are smaller, averaging 11 kg (24.3 lb). …

The gelada has a unique gait, known as the shuffle gait, that it uses when feeding. It squats bipedally and moves by sliding its feet without changing its posture. …

Protected and not endangered, these grass eaters are comfortable with people coming close. A few of the curious babies reached out and almost touched us.

Simien - Rick baboons

In 2008, the IUCN assessed the gelada as Least Concern, although their population had reduced from an estimated 440,000 in the 1970s to around 200,000 in 2008.

Here are more of Josh and Nadine’s photos.

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I posted high resolution versons of those on my flickr.

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