Where do geladas live?
The gelada is an Old World monkey epidemic to the Ethiopian Highlands, with large populations found in the Simien Mountains. They are restricted to high grassland escarpments in the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau.
Tags: Gelada, Ethiopia, Simien Mountains
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What is a gelada?
Geladas are often referred to as the gelada baboon and the bleeding-heart baboon but are not true baboons. These brown and grey primates are Old World monkeys that do bear some similarities to baboons. Twice the size of females, males are as big as a large dog and are equipped with vampiric canines, which they often bare at each other as a display of dominance or aggression. Both sexes have large, fluffy manes, as well as distinct, hourglass-shaped, bald patches of skin on their chests. They also have the most opposable index fingers and thumbs than of any other primate.
They’re grazing survivors.
Geladas primarily eat leaves of grasses, though they will opportunistically eat fruits, invertebrates, and even cereal crops where agriculture abuts their habitat. These grazers are the last surviving species of once-numerous grass-eating, terrestrial primates.
They stay grounded.
Spending almost all of their time on the ground, geladas are the world’s most terrestrial primates — with the exception of humans. They are poor tree climbers and spend 99 percent of their time on the ground partly because of their extreme dietary specialization as a grazer. Specially adapted to live high up in the mountains, they use small ledges on the steep, rocky cliffs to escape predators; they also sleep on these edges huddled together in small groups.
They form large, gregarious groups.
The gelada family unit—a harem—usually consists of one male, three to six related females and their young. Females dominate society and may decide to replace their male leader with a younger rival if it suits them. Many harems combine to form troops or bands, which can range from 30 to 600 individuals. As these monkeys possess one of the most varied vocal repertoires of all primates, these troops can be incredibly noisy.
Females are the caretakers.
Gelada females give birth to one infant at a time and reproduce every two years. The female is the sole caretaker of the new infant. While females are sexually mature between four and five years old, males attain sexual maturity between five and seven years of age. The patch of skin on a gelada’s chest is indicative of the individual’s hormone levels. Males’ patches turn a bright red during their sexual prime, while females’ chest patches blister during estrus. This has earned the monkeys the nickname, “bleeding-heart baboons.”