The Gelada old-world monkey is endemic to Ethiopia and only found in the highlands, with large populations residing in the Simien Mountains, in the North. The Gelada’s have adapted to the cooler climate; with their thick coats these rugged mountaineers are protected from the cold.
Interestingly they’re the only monkeys on Earth that survive on a meat-free diet, feeding predominantly on mountain grass. The lack of calories in their diet means they spend most of their day grazing and sitting down to save energy. Appropriately, the literal translation of ‘vegetarian’ (in relation to animals) in Amharic is ‘Sar bel’ or ‘grass eater’!
Geladas reside in large groups and are some of the most sociable and peaceful of primates, preferring to settle internal disputes by pulling faces rather than through violence. The male Gelada can be particularly stunning, and is in possession of a golden mane and heart-shaped red patch on their chests.
Our tour of Northern Ethiopia provides the opportunity to see the Gelada Baboons in their nature habitat (alongside a host of other incredible sights, sounds and smells); the Simien Mountains – so you can enjoy watching them eat grass and puff up their ‘heart-shaped boxes’ in macho face-pulling contests: