The yellow baboon lives in multi-male/multi-female groups, known as troops, which can contain between 17 to 77 individuals (2). Both males and females form a linear dominance hierarchy, in which the highest ranking members have access to a larger amount of the troop’s valuable resources, such as food and mating opportunities (2). Females reach sexual maturity around five years of age, and will give birth to their first offspring at around six years. Gestation lasts 180 days and, typically, a female reproduces nearly every two years (4). After reaching sexual maturity, female yellow baboons reproduce consistently until old age (up to 40 years of age), and remain the primary caregivers to their dependent offspring (2).
A yellow baboon troop spends the majority of the day on the ground foraging, punctuated by periods of social activity. During the night, the troop retreats to trees in the ‘sleeping grove’, an area of forest that typically lies at the centre of the home range (2). The sleeping grove provides refuge from potential predators, including large cats, spotted hyenas, pythons, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and of course humans (4). The yellow baboon is an opportunistic omnivore with an extraordinarily diverse diet, including grasses, dried seed pods, fungi, lichens, fruits, flowers, small invertebrates, reptiles, birds, bird eggs, and even other primates, such as vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) and lesser bush babies (Galago senegalensis).
As a result of the large troop size, baboons are extremely sociable animals that have developed complex forms of communication. Signals such as intense staring, eyelid displays, ground-slapping, branch-shaking, and yawning to display the male’s impressive canine teeth, are used to communicate threat without escalating to physical fighting (2). Some friendly signals seen in baboons include grinning, lip-smacking, and presenting a body part for grooming, which can be important for reconciliation between two individuals that have had a dispute (6). Vocalisations are also an important form of communication in baboon troops, such as the loud “barks” given by adult males in reaction to dangerous situations (6).