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Chacmas usually live in social groups composed of multiple adult males, adult females, and their offspring. Occasionally, however, very small groups form that include only a single adult male and several adult females. Chacma troops are characterized by a dominance hierarchy. Female ranking within the troop is inherited through the mother and remains quite fixed, while male ranking is tenuous and changes often.

Chacmas are unusual among baboons in that neither males nor females form strong relationships with members of the same sex. Instead, the strongest social bonds are often between unrelated adult males and females. Infanticide is also common compared to other baboons species, as newly dominant males will often attempt to kill young baboons sired by the previously dominant male. Baboon troops possess a complex group behavior and communicate by means of body attitudes, facial expressions, sounds/calls and touch.


Chacmas inhabit a wide array of habitats, from the grassy alpine slopes of the Drakensberge to the Kalahari desert. The Chacma Baboon is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, while also eating insects, seeds and smaller vertebrate animals. The Chacma Baboon is generally a scavenger when it comes to game meat and rarely engages in hunting large animals. There has been one incident where a Chacma Baboon has killed an infant, however the event is so rare the locals believed it was due to witchcraft. Normally, a Chacma Baboon will not approach humans and/or have much interest in them. This has been changing due to the number of tourists who feed baboons, thereby teaching them that humans are a source of food.


The Chacma Baboon is widespread and does not rank among threatened animal species. However, in some confined locations such as South Africa's Southern Cape Peninsula, local populations are dwindling due to habitat loss, as well as predation from other protected species, such as leopards and lions. Some troops have become a suburban menace, overturning trash cans and entering houses in their search for food. These animals can be aggressive and dangerous, such negative encounters have resulted in frustrated local residents resorting to hunting them. It is thought that this isolated population will face extinction within 10 years.

The Chacma is considered to be potentially threatened under C.I.T.E.S, if populations are not monitored. The only area in South Africa where they are monitored is in the Cape Peninsula where they are protected.

Observations by those working hands-on in South Africa's rehabilitation centres, have found that this species is damaged by human intervention; troop structures are influenced and over the years there has been a significant loss in numbers. Because they live near human habitats, baboons are shot, poisoned, electrocuted, run over and captured for the pet industry, research laboratories and muthi (medicine).

Snaring primates and other species for bushmeat has become a growing problem around poverty stricken areas.