• Gelada Baboons of Debre Libanos Gorge, Ethiopia
  • 19th October 2018

  • Male Golden Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana)
    Debre Libanos Gorge

    With just one week to try and discover as much of Ethiopia's wildlife as possible, one of my top priorities was the enigmatic Gelada Baboon. Their stronghold is deep in the Semian Mountains but I didn't have time for that so instead I allocated my first day to visiting a small colony on the cliffs of Debre Libanos Gorge, a couple of hours drive from Addis Ababa.

    Unfortunately Ethiopian customs had other ideas and it took seven hours of wrangling at the airport to get my camera equipment into the country. Half the day gone before I even started, the prospects of seeing Geladas were fading rapidly.

    After a hair-raising three-hour drive in steady rain we reached the impressive Debre Lebanos cliffs by mid-afternoon. Light was already starting to fade but I unpacked my gear and hurriedly set off after the guide along a treacherous cliff path.
    Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada) jumping Male Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)

    Gelada Baboons (Theropithecus gelada) mating

    I was in luck! After about 20 minutes the guide spotted two males on the far cliff calmly grooming each other. I dissuaded him from throwing out bread to attract them nearer and in fact it proved unnecessary as the rain eased off and they slowly made their way across the valley towards us giving some great photo opportunities.

    Pleased to have got some nice shots despite the day's frustrations I headed back to the 4x4 for the return journey to Addis, but it wasn't over yet. While the driver was taking a well-earned cup of coffee a call came that the baboons were in a nearby meadow... so I grabbed the camera and rushed over to find about sixty Geladas of all ages calmly feeding (and in some cases planning the next generation!) More photo opportunities as the sun emerged from the gloom... the perfect end to the day after all the frustrations of the morning.

    Mother & baby Gelada Baboon (Theropithecus gelada)

    Gelada Baboon troup (Theropithecus gelada) feeding
    The Gelada troup feeding