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Do NOT lower your windows, originally uploaded by Tom KS.


The baboons are some of the largest non-hominid members of the primate order; only the Mandrill and the Drill are larger. In modern scientific use, only members of the genus Papio are called baboons, but previously the closely related Gelada (genus Theropithecus) and two species of Mandrill and Drill (genus Mandrillus) were grouped in the same genus, and these monkeys are still often referred to as baboons in everyday speech. The word “baboon” comes from “babouin”, the name given to them by the French naturalist Buffon. Papio belongs to family Cercopithecidae, in subfamily Cercopithecinae.


Eritrea Erythrée Lafforgue 83, originally uploaded by Eric Lafforgue.


All baboons have long dog-like muzzles (cynocephalus = dog-head), close-set eyes, heavy powerful jaws, thick fur except on their muzzle, a short tail and rough spots on their rear-ends, called ischial callosities. These callouses are nerveless, hairless pads of skin which provide for the sitting comfort of the baboon (and other Old World monkeys). Males of the Hamadryas Baboon species also have a large white mane.

There is considerable variation in size and weight depending on species, the Chacma Baboon can be 120 cm (47 inches) and weigh 40 kg (90 lb) while the biggest Guinea Baboon is 50 cm (20 inches) and weighs only 14 kg (30 lb).

In all baboon species there is pronounced sexual dimorphism, usually in size but also sometimes in colour or canine development.

Baboons are terrestrial (ground dwelling) and are found in savanna, open woodland and hills across Africa. Their diet is omnivorous, but is usually vegetarian. They are foragers and are active at irregular times throughout the day and night. They can raid human dwellings and in South Africa they have been known to prey on sheep and goats.

Their principal predators are man and the leopard, although they are tough prey for a leopard and large males will often confront them.

Baboons in captivity have been known to live up to 45 years, while in the wild their life expectancy is about 30 years.



Young baboons, Serengeti, originally uploaded by Bob Duck.


Most baboons live in hierarchical troops of 5 to 250 animals (50 or so is common), depending on specific circumstances, especially species and time of year. The structure within the troop varies considerably between Hamadryas Baboons and the remaining species, sometimes collectively referred to as savannah baboons. The Hamadryas Baboon has very large groups comprised of many smaller harems (one male with four or so females), to which females from elsewhere in the troop are recruited while still too young to breed. The other baboon species have a more promiscuous structure with a strict dominance hierarchy based on the female matriline. The Hamadryas Baboon group will typically include a younger male, but he will not attempt to mate with the females unless the older male is removed.

Baboons can determine from vocal exchanges what the dominance relations between individuals are. When a confrontation occurs between different families or where a lower-ranking baboon takes the offensive, baboons show more interest in the exchange than exchanges between members of the same family or when a higher-ranking baboon takes the offensive. This is because confrontations between different families or rank challenges can have a wider impact on the whole troop than an internal conflict in a family or a baboon reinforcing its dominance.



“Does my bum look red in this?”, originally uploaded by Brian Ritchie.


Baboon mating behavior varies greatly depending on the social structure. In the mixed groups of savannah baboons, each male can mate with any female. The allowed mating order among the males depends partially on the ranking, and fights between males are not unusual.

There are however more subtle possibilities; males sometimes try to win the friendship of females. To garner this friendship, they may help groom the female, help care for her young, or supply them with food. Some females clearly prefer such friendly males as mates.

A female initiates mating by presenting her swollen rump to the male. But ‘presenting’ can also be used as a submissive gesture and is observed in males as well.

In the harems of Hamadryas baboons, the males jealously guard their females, to the point of grabbing and biting the females when they wander too far away. Despite this, some males will raid harems for females. In such situations it often comes to aggressive fights by the males. Some males succeed in taking a female from another’s harem. This is called a ‘takeover’.

Females typically give birth every other year, usually to a single infant, after a six month gestation. The young baboon weighs approximately one kilogram and is colored black. The females tend to be the primary caretaker of the young, although several females will share the duties for all of their offspring.

In mixed groups males sometimes help in caring for the young of the females they are friendly with, for instance they gather food for them and play with them. The probability is high that those young are their offspring. After about one year, the young animals are weaned. They reach sexual maturity in five to eight years.

In baboons males leave their birth group, usually before they reach sexual maturity, whereas females are ‘philopatric’ and stay in the same group their whole life.



Singer, originally uploaded by chi liu.


There are five recognised species of Papio, although there is some disagreement about whether they are really full species or subspecies. They are P. ursinus (Chacma Baboon, found in southern Africa), P. papio (Western or Guinea Baboon, found in Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea), P. hamadryas (Hamadryas Baboon, found in north-east Africa and into south-western Arabia), P. anubis (Olive Baboon, found in central African savanna) and P. cynocephalus (Yellow Baboon, found in Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia). Many authors distinguish P. hamadryas as a full species, but regard all the others as subspecies of P. cynocephalus and refer to them collectively as “savanna baboons”. This may not be helpful: while behaviorally and physically distinct from other baboon types, the Hamadryas baboon is known to hybridize with olive baboons, and recent phylogenetic studies of Papio show Hamadryas baboons to be more closely related to guinea and olive baboons than to chacmas.[2]

The traditional 5-form classification probably under-represents the variation within Papio. Some commentators[3] would argue that at least two more forms should be recognized, including the very small Kinda Baboon (P. kindae) from Zambia, the DRC, and Angola, and the Gray-footed Baboon (P. griseipes) found in Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and northern South Africa. However, current knowledge of the morphological, genetic, and behavioral diversity within Papio is too poor to make any final, comprehensive judgments on baboon taxonomy.



Dangerous Yawn, originally uploaded by Deeble.


Baboon information from Wikipedia

USPS info for posting to Australia

Country Conditions for Mailing – Australia

Prohibitions (130)

Coins; bank notes; currency notes (paper money); securities of
any kind payable to bearer; traveler’s checks; platinum, gold,
and silver (manufactured or not); precious stones; jewelry;
and other valuable articles are prohibited.

Fruit cartons (used or new).

Goods bearing the name “Anzac.”

Goods produced wholly or partly in prisons or by convict labor.

Perishable infectious biological substances.

Radioactive materials.

Registered philatelic articles with fictitious addresses.

Seditious literature.

Silencers for firearms.

Used bedding.


Meat and other animal products; powdered or concentrated
milk; and other dairy products requires permission to import
from the Australian quarantine authorities.

Permission of the Australian Director-General of Health is
required to import medicines.


Duty may be levied on catalogs, price lists, circulars, and all
advertising introduced into Australia through the mail,
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Letter-post Rates

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1 $0.84 12 $8.85 44 $19.95
2 1.80 16 10.20 48 21.40
3 2.75 20 11.60 52 22.85
4 3.70 24 12.95 56 24.35
5 4.65 28 14.35 60 25.80
6 5.60 32 15.70 64 27.30
7 6.55 36 17.15 blank blank
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Parcel Post Rates

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1 $16.00 16 $86.15 31 $153.35
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3 25.80 18 95.10 33 162.30
4 31.35 19 99.60 34 166.80
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15 81.70 30 148.90 blank blank
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Country Conditions for Mailing – Australia

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Surfers’Tribute to Steve Irwin

Raptor! Australia’s Diurnal Birds of Prey Part I

There are 6 main groups of birds that take prey during the day: ospreys, kites, hawks, eagles, harriers and falcons.  This post deals with the first three of that list. I’ve tried to find photos of these animals in their wild state whenever possible.

Osprey!, originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon].


The osprey or fish-hawk is found everywhere except Antarctica and migrates to south America every year.Note the long arched wing and the dark line through the eye and down the neck. Numbers of these magnificant birds has decreased over the years thanks to pesticides contaminating the environment.



Black-shouldered kite 3 / Australian Kite, originally uploaded by aaardvaark.


The Australian Black-shouldered Kite is one of two hovering kites with the letter-winged kite being the other. They look very similar and you can only make a definite distinction during flight by checking the underwing.



Crested Hawk or (Pacific Baza) (Aviceda subcristata), originally uploaded by topend.

The Crested Hawk is Australia’s Cuckoo Falcon. It tends to eat insects, invertebrates and frogs despite its name.


Milhafre Negro – Black Kite – Milvus migrans, originally uploaded by JulioCaldas.



Brahminy Kite 3, originally uploaded by The World Through My Eye.



Whistling Kite, originally uploaded by W & S Roddom.


The Soaring Kites are rather longlived birds which are found worldwide except for the Americas They are definite scavengers. Note the long broad fingered wings.


Christmas Island Goshawk, originally uploaded by Rob Hughes.

Also known as the Australian Goshawk or Brown Goshawk and unfortunately the Chicken Hawk.


COLLARED SPARROWHAWK Accipiter cirrhocephalus, originally uploaded by beeater.


Also otherwise known as a chicken hawk. What is it with some people?! These are two of Australia’s three goshawk species. The collared sparrowhawk is a rather small bird which is a little larger than a dove.


Steve Irwin at the Footy Show

The Sumatran Tiger

Friday, originally uploaded by Arddu.


The Sumatran Tiger is a species that Steve Irwin was passionate about and chose to focus on with his Wildlife Warriors in the Asia region.



Wild Sumatran tiger on the prowl, originally uploaded by Wild Tiger.


The Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500 animals, occurring predominantly in the island’s national parks. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, indicating that it may develop into a separate species, if it is not made extinct.[2] This has led to suggestions that the Sumatran Tiger should have greater priority for conservation than any other subspecies. Habitat destruction is the main threat to the existing tiger population (logging continues even in the supposedly protected national parks), but 66 tigers were recorded as being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000—nearly 20% of the total population.


Sumatran Tiger, originally uploaded by BrianScott.


The Sumatran Tiger is the smallest of all tiger subspecies, and the Siberian Tiger is the largest. Male Sumatran Tigers average 8 feet in length from head to tail and weigh about 265 pounds. Females average 7 feet in length and weigh about 200 pounds. Its stripes are narrower than other subspecies of tigers’ stripes, and it has a more bearded and maned appearance, especially the males. Its small size makes it easier to move through the jungle. It has webbing between its toes that when spread, makes them very fast swimmers. It has been known to drive hoofed prey into the water, especially if the prey animal is a slow swimmer.


Sumatran Tiger Cubs @ the National Zoo, originally uploaded by Tiger Empress.


Tigers can breed at any time of year, though they typically breed during the winter or spring, and the gestation period is about 103 days. Normally they have 2 or 3 cubs, but can have as many as 6. The cubs are born with their eyes closed and weigh approximately 3 pounds (1.36 kg) each. Their eyes usually open by the tenth day, though some zoo born cubs have been recorded to have their eyes open at birth. They only consume milk for the first 8 weeks and after they can start trying harder food but still suckle for 5 or 6 months. The cubs first leave the den at 2 weeks old and learn to hunt at 6 months old. They can completely hunt for themselves at 18 months and at 2 years they are fully independent. They can live for about 15 years in the wild, and 20 in captivity.


Monitor, originally uploaded by GeoWombats.

Australian (and to an extent Australasian) monitor lizards belonging to the Varanus genus are called Goannas. The name is presumed to be derived from iguana, as early European settlers likened them to the South American lizards. There are around 20 species of goanna, 15 of which are unique to Australia. They are a varied group of carnivorous reptiles that range greatly in size and fill several ecological niches. The Goanna features prominently in Aboriginal Mythology and Australian folklore.

Perentie, originally uploaded by AlexandraPhotos.

Being predatory lizards, goannas are often quite large, or at least bulky, with sharp teeth and claws. The largest is the Perentie (Varanus giganteus), which can grow over 2m in length. They prey on all manner of small animals; insects, lizards, snakes, mammals, birds, eggs. Meals are often eaten whole, and thus the size of their meals depends on the size of the animal itself. However, the Perentie has been observed killing a young kangaroo, and then biting out chunks of flesh like a dog. Goannas have even been blamed for the death of sheep by farmers, though most likely erroneously, as goannas are also eaters of carrion and are attracted to rotting meat.

Nyahhhhh!, originally uploaded by Ozone71.

Not all goannas are gargantuan. Pygmy goannas may be smaller than a man’s arm. The smallest of these, the short-tailed monitor (Varanus brevicuda) reaches only 20 cm in length. They survive on smaller prey such as insects and mice.

Most goannas are dark in coloration, whites, greys, blacks and greens featuring prominently. Many desert dwelling species also feature yellow-red tones. Camouflage ranges from bands and stripes to splotches, speckles and circles, and can change as the creature matures; juveniles sometimes being brighter than adults.

Like most lizards, goannas lay eggs. Most lay eggs in a nest or burrow, but some species lay their eggs inside termite mounds. This offers protection and incubation, additionally the termites may provide a meal for the young as they hatch. Unlike other species of lizards, goannas do not have the ability to regrow limbs or tails.

Goannas are found throughout most of Australia, except for Tasmania, and manage to persist in a variety of environments. Most species are terrestrial, or ground dwelling. Prominent among these is the Sand goanna (Varanus gouldii – also known as the ground goanna or Gould’s goanna), the most common of all goannas. They are often found in close proximity to a burrow or den, which may be a hollow log, or if in the plains a dug burrow which can be up to a metre (three feet) deep. They may even take over rabbit warrens. The far end of the burrow is often close to the surface, so if the entrance is blocked off (by a predator, or a collapse) the goanna just needs to break through a few centimetres/inches of soil to be free.

As well as sandy plains, some goannas live in rocky outcrops and cliffs, often having special adaptations that aid their survival. The spiny-tailed goanna (Varanus acantharus) of Northern Australia, has blunt spines on its tail that make it virtually immovable from the rockface if in danger.

While some terrestrial goannas may occasionally climb trees or outcrops, there are plenty of primarily arboreal species. The lace monitor (Varanus varius) is probably the best-known amongst these, but is not the most common. The lace monitor is the second largest of all goannas, reaching lengths of up to 2 metres. Other more common tree goannas, such as the Timor tree monitor (Varanus timorensis) and Mournful tree monitor (Varanus tristis) do not grow to quite such lengths, averaging only a few feet nose to tail.

I have a Sssssplit tongue!, originally uploaded by bocavermelhal.b..

Other goannas are adapted to swampy coastal environments such as the Mangrove goanna (Varanus semiremex). Further still, the Mertens’ water monitor (Water goanna – Varanus mertensi), found in lagoons and rivers across northern Australia, is streamlined for swimming, utilising its tail as a paddle. Most other goannas are good swimmers, but tend not to voluntarily venture into the water.

Like most native fauna, goannas are rather wary of human intrusions into their habitat, and will most likely run away (into the scrub, up a tree, or into the water, depending on the species). A goanna is a rather swift mover, and when pressed will sprint short distances on its hind legs.

Goannas also rear up when threatened, either chased or cornered, and also inflate flaps of skin around their throat and emit a harsh hissing noise. The larger goannas can reach around a man’s waist, so they can be quite a fearsome experience to the unwary. Goannas have been known to be worn as a “live belt” in some remote aboriginal communities.[citation needed]

Yawning Goanna – Sydney, originally uploaded by The Echo of Light.

Some goannas recover from their initial fear of humans, especially when food is involved (or food has been involved previously). This reinforces the wildlife authority’s mantra of not feeding animals while camping or erstwhile adventuring. This said, most authorities doubt that a goanna will actually direct an intentional attack on human unless said human attempts to attack it (or grasp at it) first. Aborigines who hunt goannas for food consider the Perentie as a high-risk (but tasty) prey.

Aside from a severe bite or scratch (which carries risk of tetanus), other dangers a goanna presents is from its hefty tail. It can swing this much like a crocodile if cornered. Small children and dogs have been knocked down by such attacks. Often victims in goanna attacks are bystanders, watching the person antagonising the goanna. Alarmed goannas can mistake standing humans for trees and attempt to climb off the ground to safety, which is understandably painful, as well distressing for both man and beast.

Casual theft, originally uploaded by petrichor.