Papio cynocephalus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Primates Cercopithecidae

Scientific Name: Papio cynocephalus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Yellow Baboon
French Babouin cynocépahle
Spanish Papión Dorado
Papio cynocephalus ssp. jubilaeus Schwarz, 1928
Simia cynocephalus Linnaeus, 1766
Taxonomic Source(s): Mittermeier, R.A., Rylands, A.B. and Wilson D.E. 2013. Handbook of the Mammals of the World: Volume 3 Primates. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Taxonomic Notes: Grubb et al. (2003) and Groves (2001, 2005) recognized three subspecies: Papio cynocephalus cynocephalus, P. c. ibeanus and P. c. kindae. Subspecies kindae is now treated as a separate species. Limits to the distributions of the two remaining subspecies are poorly known. Historically, several forms of P. cyanocephalus have been described, some of which may merit subspecies status (e.g. P. c. jubilaeus from the Luangwa Valley) (Mittermeier et al. 2013).

Papio cyanocephalus hybridizes with P. anubis and there is a broad clinal hybrid zone between Laikipia district to the northeast of Mount Kenya and the Lower Tana River on the Kenya coast. Baboons in this more than 200-km wide region are intermediate and are difficult to allocate to either P. cyanocephalus or P. anubis (Mittermeier et al. 2013).

Papio cyanocephalus also hybridizes with Papio kindae, P. ursinus griseipes andRungwicebus kipunji in the respective contact zones (Mittermeier et al. 2013). Whether their distribution overlaps with P. hamadryas in Somalia is not clear (Mittermeier et al. 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2008-07-01
Assessor(s): Kingdon, J., Butynski, T.M. & De Jong, Y.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
This is a backcasted assessment because the former subspecies P. c. kindae is now treated as a species.

Listed as Least Concern as the species is widespread and common, present in numerous protected areas, and there are no major range-wide threats believed to be resulting in a significant population decline.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species ranges from Somalia, coastal Kenya, and northern Tanzania southwards to the Zambezi valley (Jolly 1993). There are hybrid zones with Papio anubis near Sultan Hamud, Kenya (2°02'S, 37°23'E), Amboseli National Park (Kenya) and Mkomazi Reserve in Tanzania. There is a broad clinal hybrid zone between Laikipia District, just to the northeast and east of Mt. Kenya, and the Lower Tana River, Kenya coast. Baboons in this >200-km wide region are intermediate and cannot be readily allocated to either P. anubis or P. cynocephalus (baboons become increasingly “yellow-like” in their phenotypes towards the Kenya Coast; T. Butynski and Y. de Jong pers. comm.). Sympatric with Cercopithecus pygerythrus, Erythrocebus patas and Cercopithecus mitis (T. Butynski and Y. de Jong pers. comms.).

There are two subspecies: P. c. cynocephalus occurs in the central and southeastern parts of the range including Zambia east of the Luangwa, Malawi, northern Mozambique, and most of Tanzania; and P. c. ibeanus is found in southern Somalia, and southeast and coastal Kenya.
Countries occurrence:
Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Somalia; Tanzania, United Republic of; Zambia
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is widespread and locally common, but patchily distributed over its extensive range.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Over a great part of this species' range, it is specific to fire-climax Miombo (Brachystegia) woodland. Both within this zone and especially to the northeast, it also occupies dry bushland, thickets, steppes, and the coastal littoral (including mangroves); able to persist in secondary and/or highly fragmented vegetation, including cultivated area. It is an opportunistic omnivore which primarily feeds on the seeds, flesh, and pods of the leguminous trees including Acacia, Albizia, mopane (Colophospermum), and tamarind, all of which are seasonal staples. In addition, Miombo fauna such as mopane worms and various other insects are equally important at times. In addition, this species also eats grasses, shoots, fungi, lichens, and many invertebrates. It prefers foods with an unusual chemistry, implying that this species has acquired special digestive adaptations. This may help to explain why the boundaries of its distribution do not follow any geographic discontinuities but coincide very closely with the distribution of a plant community (Jolly 1993, Kingdon 1997).

The Yellow Baboon typically forages in extended, well-spaced troops which can occasionally number up to 300 animals (with an average of 30-80). During the calving season, many young antelopes and hares are caught.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species, although it has been locally displaced by agriculture and tree clearance in some parts of the range (T. Butynski and Y. de Jong pers. comms.). In addition, it is commonly exported from East Africa for medical research.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed under Appendix II of CITES. It is listed as Vermin under the African Convention. It is present in many protected areas. Research into the boundaries and possible reasons for separation into distinctly eastern and western subspecies could be useful.

Citation: Kingdon, J., Butynski, T.M. & De Jong, Y. 2016. Papio cynocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T92250442A92250811. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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