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Gelada baboon
Theropithecus gelada


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: T. gelada: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

T. gelada
Theropithecus gelada
Photo: Kalle Stolt

Within Ethiopia, geladas are protected in the Simien Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and hunting of the species is forbidden within its confines (Dunbar 1993a; Oates 1996; For the most part however, this park exists more for the conservation of the extremely rare Walia ibex (Capra walie) than specifically for the gelada (Dunbar 1993c). However, human densities on the Ethiopian plateau are among the highest in Africa and as a result there is a high potential for conflict over habitat (Dunbar 1993a).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Threatened and actual habitat loss seriously endangers the gelada. A main threat is the use of its preferred habitat for agriculture. So extensive is agricultural production that in some areas were farmland is at a premium, slopes that are too sleep for plowing are cultivated by hand. As preferred habitat is destroyed, geladas will likely have to move to more marginal areas, reducing their population densities (Dunbar 1977c).

Geladas are also potentially threatened by global climate change predominantly due to their attitudinally restricted habitat. If global temperature rises, the altitude at which the montane grasses grow that provide the gelada diet would increase and eventually gelada habitat would cease to exist. As an example, if global temperature were to rise 5°C (9°F), gelada populations would be reduced by two-thirds, due to a reduction in extent of habitat (Dunbar 1998).

Threat: Invasive Alien Species

The deforestation of certain areas near gelada habitat has indirectly threatened the species. This is due to the replanting of quick-growing, non-native Eucalyptus globules trees, which do not retain soil as well as native species, inhibit the growth of grass, and actually increase topsoil loss (Dunbar 1977c).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

In past centuries and even recently, male geladas were killed by indigenous pastoral groups to procure their manes for ceremonial headdresses. These culls remove only adult males from the population, altering species reproductive and social dynamics (Dunbar 1977c; 1993a). Hunting of geladas for bushmeat is rare due to orthodox religious beliefs of many local groups living in proximity to geladas (Hunter 2007).

Threat: Persecution

Owing to their specialized diet, geladas do not usually crop-raid and this fact may help reduce persecution by humans (Dunbar 1993a). However, in times of drought or other exceptional circumstances, geladas will raid cropland if necessary, especially around harvest time (Dunbar 1977c). In most cases however, if confronted by farmers, geladas will retreat and will not continue feeding, perhaps lessening conflict (Dunbar 1977c).




Content last modified: September 3, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Robin Dunbar.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 September 3. Primate Factsheets: Gelada baboon (Theropithecus gelada) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 September 18.