Guinea Baboon

Guinea Baboon

Red baboon, Savanna baboon, Guinea baboon

Papio papio
Population size
Life Span
35-45 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
mm inch 

The Guinea baboon (Papio papio ) is a baboon from the Old World monkey family. Some (older) classifications list only two species in the genus Papio, this one and the hamadryas baboon. In those classifications, all other Papio species are considered subspecies of P. papio and the species is called the savanna baboon.

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The Guinea baboon inhabits a small area in western Africa. Its range includes Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, southern Mauritania and western Mali. Its habitat includes dry forests, gallery forests, and adjoining bush savannas or steppes. It has reddish-brown hair, a hairless, dark-violet or black face with the typical dog-like muzzle, which is surrounded by a small mane, and a tail carried in a round arc. It also has limb modifications that allow it to walk long distances on the ground. The Guinea baboon is one of the smallest baboon species, weighing between 13 and 26 kg (28.6–57 lbs). Their life spans are generally between 20 to 50 years.

It is a diurnal and terrestrial animal, but sleeps in trees or high rocks at night, away from predators. The number of suitable sleeping trees limits the group size and the range. It lives in troops of up to 200 individuals, each with a set place in a hierarchy. Group living provides protection from predators such as the lion and various hyena species. Like all baboons, it is an omnivorous highly opportunistic feeder, eating fruits, buds, roots, bark, grasses, greens, seeds, tubers, leaves, nuts, cereals, insects, worms, birds and small mammals. Because it will eat practically anything available, the Guinea baboon is able to occupy areas with limited resources or harsh conditions. Its presence may help improve habitats because it digs for water and spreads seeds in its waste, encouraging plant growth.

The Guinea baboon is a highly communicative animal. It communicates by using a variety of vocalizations and physical interactions. In addition to vocalizations to each other, this animal has vocal communications apparently intended to be received and interpreted by predators.

Due to its small range and the loss of its habitat, the Guinea baboon is classified as "near threatened" by the IUCN.

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Guinea baboons are Old World baboons with large bodies and defined sexual dimorphism, expressed by long canines. This species is otherwise called the 'Red baboon' due to the red color pattern of its fur. The Guinea baboon is distinguished by its considerably long molars and broad incisors. The front and hind limbs are almost the same length. The digits on all of their feet are short and stout. Hence, these primates are unable to climb. Guinea baboons have a social system, where males protect females and young.



Guinea baboons have a rather small natural range in western equatorial Africa, including certain parts of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mauretania and Mali. These primates are allopatric animals, which means that they live in isolated populations that don't interbreed. However, where their territories overlap, Guinea baboons usually do interbreed. Preferred habitat of these baboons is woodland savanna, although they occur in a variety of forest and savanna habitats throughout their range. They are also known to live in open terrains such as grasslands and rainforests. During the dry season, large concentrations of these animals can be found around constant sources of water. During the wet season, they typically live in smaller groups.

Guinea Baboon habitat map

Climate zones

Guinea Baboon habitat map
Guinea Baboon
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Habits and Lifestyle

Guinea baboons are generally terrestrial animals, although they are also known to be accomplished climbers. They lead diurnal lifestyle. Guinea baboons are quadrupedal creatures. Like Hamadryas baboons, they have a multi-leveled social system. Their groups are called one male units (OMUs) and typically contain a single mature male, sub-adult males as well as multiple females and young. In order to reduce predation, these groups may occasionally unite into larger aggregations. The leading male of the group don't aggressively herd the community. Instead, it guides the group through corralling, shaking and jumping. Additionally, it will run in order to speed up the movement and will prance when changing the direction. Guinea baboons sleep in large trees, where each group has a single branch to sleep on. These primates sleep at night and look for food during the daytime hours in smaller sub-groups. When foraging, these sub-groups cannot see each other and thus communicate through specific calls.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

As an omnivore, Guinea baboon will eat food of both plant and animal origin such as roots, fruits, seed, tubers, bulbs, corms of grasses and, occasionally, meat.

Mating Habits

184 days
1 infant
6-8 months

Guinea baboons may exhibit both polygynous (one male mates with multiple females) and polygynandrous (promiscuous) (both males and females have multiple mates) mating systems. The mating system and habits of this species are unknown, although most baboon species breed year-round. Females give birth at an interval of 423 days, after a gestation period of 184 days. Females give birth to a single infant, which is nursed until about 6 – 8 months old. Female Guinea baboons become reproductively mature at 4.3 years of age.


Population threats

The population of Guinea baboons outside the Niokolo-Koba National Park has suffered from continuous decline as a result of agricultural development, deforestation as well as hunting for food (in Guinea) and for crop destruction. Additionally, in former times, those in Senegal were exported for laboratory use.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Guinea baboon is common in many parts of its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

Due to their habit of digging, Guinea baboons largely contribute to soil aeration throughout their range. Meanwhile, their diet allows them to act as important seed dispersers of certain fruits and grains. Additionally, Guinea baboons control population numbers of animals they consume. Moreover, they, in turn, are a key prey species for many local predators.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • These primates typically rest in extremely large kapok or palm trees. These trees are often so large that the animals are unable to climb the trunks, getting to them only by leaping from cliffs or nearby trees. During these leaps, some individuals fall. Juveniles are very afraid of taking leaps and usually scream at the leaping point, "chickening out" prior to the leap.
  • According to a recent research, the Guinea baboons frequent caves to lick the walls.
  • These baboons are known to form large groups of up to 200 animals.
  • Various baboon species occur throughout Africa, nearly anywhere with drinking water.
  • Guinea baboons are very social animals, communicating with conspecifics primarily through calls and physical signals. Moreover, they even use certain vocalizations to communicate with predators.


1. Guinea Baboon Wikipedia article -
2. Guinea Baboon on The IUCN Red List site -

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