Theropithecus gelada

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA PRIMATES CERCOPITHECIDAE

Scientific Name: Theropithecus gelada
Species Authority: (Rüppell, 1835)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Gelada Baboon
French Gelada
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies have been described: T. g. gelada and T. g. obscurus (Grubb et al. 2003, Groves 2005). Recent genetic work has shown that the eastern subspecies has been wrongly assumed to be T. g. obscurus. This name should apply to the animals found in the central and southern parts of the range of the western form (south of Lake Tana and east of the Takkazzé River). The northwestern part of the range (north of Lake Tana and west of the Takkazzé River) of the western form is the nominate subspecies T. g. gelada. The eastern form thus represents an undescribed subspecies (Belay and Mori 2006).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Gippoliti, S. & Hunter, C.
Reviewer(s): Mittermeier, R.A. & Rylands, A.B. (Primate Red List Authority)
Justification:
This species has a large range and is still abundant despite increasing threats to the species and is hence listed as Least Concern. There is no reason to believe it has undergone a significant range-wide decline that would warrant listing in a threatened category.
History:
1996 Lower Risk/near threatened (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1994 Rare (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Rare (IUCN 1990)
1988 Rare (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is restricted to high grassland escarpments in the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau, in the Tigre, Begemdir, Wolle, and Shoa Provinces between 1,800 and 4,400 m asl. The Blue Nile Gorge and the upper Wabe Shebelle valley (east of the Bale massif) mark the western and southeastern boundaries of the range, respectively.

There are possibly three subspecies: T. g. gelada and T. g. obscurus occur in the Begemdir, Tigre, and Wollo and Shoa provinces, west of the Rift Valley, while an undescribed subspecies is found along the Wabi-Shebeli River in the Arussi province, east of the Rift Valley. T. g. gelada is found north of Lake Tana and west of the Takkazzé River, while T. g. obscurus is found south of Lake Tana and east of Takkazzé River.
Countries:
Native:
Ethiopia
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Geladas are widespread throughout their present range but, partly as a result of the droughts affecting the Horn of Africa in the 1980s, they are not as abundant as in the 1970s when an aerial survey of the central Ethiopian highlands yielded an estimate of 440,000 for the total population. An alternative estimate based on known ground densities and the total area of gorge face on the plateau yielded a figure of 880,000. C. Hunter (pers. comm.) considers that these estimates may now be too high, and that a better guesstimate would be approx. 200,000 animals. Surveys in a number of areas give overall densities varying between 15 and 60 animals/km², although densities of animals within home ranges commonly exceed 70/km².
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is associated with rocky gorges, precipices and moorland. Feeds mainly on the flat margins of high grass plateaus, known locally as high Wurch or Puna grassland steppe, with Agrostis and Festuca grasses and giant Lobelia groves. Gelada bands consist of 30-260 animals, making up 2-30 one male groups. Bands keep within 2 km of the escarpment edges, where they retreat at night or if alarmed. As a result, ranges are linear, encompassing as little as 1-3 km² for a band's core area (although their year-long range can cover 70 km²). Steep cliffs provide sleeping roosts. Geladas are poor tree-climbers and are almost entirely terrestrial, spending 99% of their time on the ground. This is partly a consequece of its extreme dietary specialization as a grazer.

Geladas primarily feed on the leaves of grasses. In addition, during dry seasons when there is heavy overgrazing by livestock, or when Gelada bands are very concentrated, subterranean stems and rhizomes are also excavated. Fruits and invertebrates are eaten opportunistically, and cereal crops may be taken where agriculture encroaches onto the geladas' habitat.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Gelada Baboon was formerly exploited, but this has now apparently stopped.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The overall range of the Gelada is being eroded as a result of agricultural expansion due to the increasing human population densities on the central highlands. Deforestation and soil erosion are serious problems throughout the area. Grazing pressure is intense, and competition from domestic livestock has forced the Gelada to remain on the less productive gorge slopes in some areas. Gelada densities are considerably lower in heavily populated areas than in undisturbed habitats. Geladas are also shot as crop pests, and have been trapped as laboratory animals in the past (e.g., 1,200 animals were imported into the USA between 1968-1973). In the past, adult numbers may have been reduced as a result of selective shooting for their capes (to be made into ceremonial costumes used by the Oromo tribe). There are historic records of capes being made into fur hats for tourists, but that certainly no longer occurs, and it is now extremely difficult for any tourist to leave the country with items made from Gelada skins.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Listed as Vulnerable, Class A under the African Convention, and is listed on Appendix II of CITES. A few Gelada bands range in the tiny Simien Mountains National Park (the only area of Gelada habitat which is currently formally protected). In addition there are proposals for a new Blue Nile Gorges National Park and Indeltu (Shebelle) Gorges Reserve that would protect larger numbers. The latter would protect the unnamed subspecies. There is a need for further research on the infra-specific taxonomy, especially the distribution ranges of the subspecies.

Bibliography [top]

Belay, G. and Mori, A. 2006. Intraspecific phylogeographic mitochondrial DNA (D-loop) variation of Gelada baboon, Theropithecus gelada, in Ethiopia. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 34: 554-561.

Dunbar, R. I. M. 1977. The gelada baboon: Status and conservation. In: H. S. H. Prince Rainier and G. H. Bourne (eds), Primate Conservation, pp. 363-383. Academic Press, London, UK.

Groves, C.P. 2005. Order Primates. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 111-184. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Iwamoto, M. 1980. On the distribution of baboons in Ethiopia. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Nippon 88: 387-396.

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press Natural World, San Diego, California, USA.

Yalden, D.W., Largen, M.J., Kock, D. and Hillman, J.C. 1996. Catalogue of the Mammals of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7. Revised Checklist, zoogeography and conservation. Tropical Zoology 9(1): 73-164.


Citation: Gippoliti, S. & Hunter, C. 2008. Theropithecus gelada. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 28 November 2014.
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