The friendship between the olive baboon and African elephant is an example of a symbiotic relationship. The baboons help endangered elephants escape danger in exchange for water.
What is Symbiosis?
Symbiosis, or a symbiotic relationship, is when animals help each other in order to survive. Sometimes, these bio-buddies must work together or they will both die. Other times, it’s just nice to have a helping hand out in the wild.
The Olive Baboon
- The olive baboon is one of the largest types of monkeys.
- They live all over the center of Africa – a much larger neighborhood than other kinds of baboons.
- Their communities are similar to ours with families, leaders, teachers and even babysitters.
- The olive baboon gets along better than some other African critters because, not only are they comfortable on the hot savanna (grassy land), but they will eat just about anything including all types of plants, bugs, and small animals.
The African Elephant
The African Elephant’s story isn’t quite so happy…
- According to the Endangered Species Biomes Project , since the 1980’s, eight out of every ten African Elephants died (80% of them).
- This makes African elephants an endangered species, which means that, without a lot of help and protection, every one of them could die and there would be no more African elephants on Earth.
- The reason these creatures are dying is that their homes are being turned into towns and cities, and people are hunting and killing them for their tusks.
- Elephant tusks are made of ivory which is used for fancy jewelry and trinkets.
- The African elephant is the largest animal on land.
- African elephants are really smart and can feel sad, think something is funny, play, and even draw pictures.
- Like humans and baboons, they have families and communities with leaders and groups of best friends.
Professor Hezy Shoshani was one of the world’s experts on African elephants. He had studied them for over 35 years and even started the Elephant Research Foundation to teach others more about elephants and help protect them. While watching African elephants, Professor Shoshani discovered something really cool.
- The elephants who live in Eritrea, Africa had formed a special friendship with the olive baboons who live in the same area.
- During times when there is very little water on the savanna , the elephants can dig holes with their large tusks to reach pools of water.
- There is no way an olive baboon could dig such a hole, but they also need water.
- While the elephants dig, the baboons wait high in the nearby trees.
- If danger comes, like a poacher or an animal that might eat an elephant, the baboons notice that something is coming and start screeching, even though high in the trees, they themselves are in no danger.
- The elephants have learned to trust the warning from the baboons and run off.
- The baboons have a good reason to help the elephants dig safely – the elephants allow the baboons to drink right along beside them.
Good teamwork, Bio-Buddies!