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Baboon society

Duration: 03:47

Primates have adapted to a whole host of environments. In the harsh scrublands of Ethiopia hamadryas baboons spend their nights high up on the cliffs. Living in groups of up to 400 individuals they have no single leader but are divided into dozens of harems, each under a dominant male. Each morning they leave the cliffs in search of food with the top-ranking males leading the way and woe betide any female who steps out of line as this brings violent retribution from the aggressive males. Despite their individual strength, hamadryas baboons know that there is safety in numbers... especially when another troop is also on the cliffs. As rival factions clash, the baboons get excited and run into the fray with males taking the opportuinity to settle old scores. But this is also their best chance to steal females from the other troop. After the battle, males punish any females that dared to stray as strict discipline is essential if order is to be maintained. It's a harsh social system but it works for hamadryas baboons.

Available since: Wed 9 Dec 2009


David Attenborough
Patrick Morris
Executive Producer
Michael Gunton

This clip is from

Life Primates

10/10 Primates are just like humans - intelligent, quarrelsome, family-centred.

First broadcast: 14 Dec 2009

Image for Primates Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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