These ground-dwelling primates live around steep, rocky gorges and precipices, between 6,500 and 16,000 feet above sea level. They sleep on treeless, rocky cliffs for protection against predators and spend their days socializing and feeding on the grassy plateaus nearby. Geladas communicate through visual signals and more than 25 vocalizations.
Living in bands of 30 to 350 individuals, geladas have complex social lives. The bands break off into reproductive units of one adult male and several females, or just young males. The close-knit females seem to run the show, guiding the movements of the troop. When males fight to reproduce with females, the females choose the winner.
Geladas are the only grazing primate. Their diet consists mostly of grass, leaves, roots, and grass seeds, though they occasionally eat insects. Since they eat grass, geladas do not need to travel far in search of food.
Births occur throughout the year, with females reproducing every two years. Mothers nurse their infants for up to a year and a half. As in other primates, the females are the primary caregivers—carrying, grooming, and protecting their offspring until they become independent. Geladas reach adulthood by 7 years old and can live about 20 years.
Some of My Neighbors
Ethiopian Wolves, Honey Badgers, Hyena, Ibex, Mountain Nyala, Rock Hyrax, Giant Lobelias, Ethiopian Bee Eaters, Leopards
Population Status & Threats
The gelada is classified as near threatened. This means that the species could potentially face a risk of extinction in the wild in the future should populations decline. The biggest threats to gelada populations are habitat loss and degradation through agriculture. Some local people also hunt males to use their long manes in traditional headpieces and capes.
WCS Conservation Efforts
Through research conducted at the Bronx Zoo Baboon Reserve, WCS scientists have learned that the changes in the appearance of a pregnant female’s red chest are directly related to her hormone levels. This information can help in monitoring females both at the zoo and in the wild to improve breeding success.
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