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Yellow baboon
Papio cynocephalus


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


Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Hunting pressure on yellow baboons is increasing in some parts of their range and could reach unsustainable levels if it is not curtailed. Wildlife is the main source of protein for some people living in rural areas near forests, and when animals such as baboons, which are skilled crop-raiders, become nuisances, the harvesting increases to curb the population (FitzGibbon et al. 2000). The hunting pressure also increases as human population density increases. Eventually, hunting will extirpate those species that cannot reproduce quickly enough to replace members of the population lost to hunting (FitzGibbon et al. 2000). Yellow baboons, like other primates that have relatively slow reproductive rates, are likely to experience this population reduction as they cannot reproduce fast enough to compensate for the hunting in some areas. Though they are not threatened currently, decreasing local populations in and around forests decreases the overall conservation value of the forests and limits other activities such as ecotourism (FitzGibbon et al. 2000).

Threat: Accidental Mortality

While the yellow baboons are not threatened with extinction and are currently of little conservation concern, a pattern of accidental mortality has emerged among a group of baboons in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. A highway connecting Tanzania and Zambia cuts through Mikumi, and baboons and other wildlife are increasingly threatened by fast-moving vehicles on this stretch of road. Constant improvements to road conditions allow drivers to increase their speed and subsequently more animal deaths have been reported (Drews 1995). About 18 yellow baboons are killed each year as a result of public traffic on the highway, and this cause of death can contribute up to 10% of the total yearly losses in each group. As roads are built and paved through remaining rural areas throughout the range of the yellow baboon, it is possible that collisions with vehicles can significantly decrease population growth in some areas (Drews 1995).

Threat: Changes in Native Species Dynamics

Natural changes in the ecosystem of Amboseli National Park resulted in high mortality among yellow baboons during the late 1960s. During this time, significant changes to the habitat occurred, though it is unclear if these changes directly affected the baboons or if they were indirectly responsible for the decrease in population size and density (Altmann 1998). The landscape at Amboseli was indirectly affected by human population growth in the areas surround the park. As the human population in surrounding areas grew, an attempt to separate the park from human areas through fencing caused the elephant population within the park to be confined. Some 700 elephants became restricted to the boundaries of the park and rather than moving over huge distances, foraging as they moved, the elephants remained inside the park, destroying fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea) and eliminating food sources and shelter for many mammals, including baboons (Cheney & Seyfarth 1990). Another source of mortality for the fever trees was the rising water table caused by runoff from Mount Kilimanjaro, which rises above Amboseli. These two factors played some role in the annual die-off of 46% of the population of yellow baboons in the park during the years from 1964-1969 (Altmann 1998).





Content last modified: January 6, 2006

Written by Kristina Cawthon Lang. Reviewed by Jeanne Altmann.

Cite this page as:
Cawthon Lang KA. 2006 January 6. Primate Factsheets: Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2019 December 14.