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Study: Geladas Help Wolves Hunt, Don’t Get Eaten

posted: 06/22/15
by: Danny Clemens
Geladas on rock
jez_bennett/iStock

You'd think that the sight of an Ethiopian wolf would send a gelada baboon running for its life. Not so, according to a new study from Dartmouth College.

Researchers followed large herds of gelada baboons in Ethiopia's Gaussa Plateau for several years, taking note of an unexpected example of mixed-species association: the geladas' grazing behavior appeared to give the wolves a predatory advantage.

As the grazing geladas dined on the plateau's abundant grass, they seemed to drive out the small subterranean rodents that shacked up in the vegetation, creating a quick and easy meal for the wolves. Through "consistent non-threatening behavior", the wolves have established a mutually beneficial relationship with the geladas, whose young are similar in size to the wolves' prey.

According to the researchers' observations, the wolves had a 66.7% success rate when hunting in the presence of geladas, compared to a 25% success rate on their own.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

The coyote-sized Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is believed to be amongst the rarest canids in the world. Habitat destruction and outbreaks of disease have caused the population to dwindle significantly; there are thought to be as few as 300 wolves remaining.

Native to the Ethiopian grasslands, the gelada (Theropithecus gelada) is the only graminivorous primate. It dines primarily on the grass, flowers, herbs and roots found in the highlands. They are known to develop highly complex, stratified societies.

Click here for more information from Dartmouth

Learn more about geladas:

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Gelada Baboon Attack
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