Geladas Going Up and Up
- 28 Jul 06, 05:24 PM
Chadden Hunter works with gelada baboons in the Ethiopian Highlands and with his colleagues is discovering they are going higher and higher up the mountain - and it's not long before "gelada's might lift off the mountain".
Gelada baboons are a stunning looking species of monkey that live in high altitude communities in remote parts of the Ethiopian Highlands. They are famous for their heart shape piece of skin on their chest, which flushes a deep red colour when males are dominant. This species of baboon is dependent on a fragile mountain habitat that is composed of grass species that are very sensitive to ambient temperature. Climate warming - Chadden says - has seen this habitat go up the mountain 30 metres in 30 years. Already the gelada baboons are on many of the mountain plateaux, following their only source of food up the mountain. It just requires another hike in the temperature "say another 7 degrees and the shift in altitude will lift the gelada off the mountain". The mountains are about 4000 metres high, and Chadden tells us there are a few more peaks left on which nightly frosts prevent the grass growing, but with a temperature hike the grassland habitat might invade. But, mountain species live as if they were island species. There are few places for this amazing creature to go.
We have a great interview with Chadden - right in front of gelada baboons giving us the detail of this story. Another reason to listen out for PEuT in the Autumn.