Family volunteering with monkeys in South Africa
Description of Family volunteering with monkeys in South Africa
Take your family off the beaten track and into this life changing primate rehabilitation centre. Work with baby baboons to help prepare them for life in the wild. Both kids and adults alike love the volunteering, the location and the pace of life in the African bush.
Home to over 400 rescued baboons all waiting to be released to the wild, this is an inspiring family-run project looking for helping hands.
You will all become important members of the team, helping in a variety of roles:
- Daily food prepping shifts in the milk kitchen
- ‘Troop cleans’ involve maintaining enclosures through adding new enrichments, hay and and mucking out
- Feeding of other animals at the centre including rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, snakes and lizards
- Making enrichments and watching the baboons receive enrichments
- Enjoy spending time grooming older baboons who cannot be released
- Taking care of any nursery orphans in the nursery quarantine
- If any infants are in the process of being bonded to an adult baboon surrogate, the volunteers will help facilitate their relationship building in purpose built bonding enclosures
- Monitoring – join staff to observe and learn more about baboon behaviour / social structures / troop dynamics
- The Big 5 reserve offers game drives, sundowners at the Picnic Spot, river trips for wildlife spotting and sometimes taking the babies to the river
- Helping to prepare for current and future releases
- Helping and observing in the veterinary clinic
This project has a lovely family feel, with volunteers all sitting down together for meals. Evenings are spent relaxing under the stars and sharing stories.
How does the rehabilitation process work?
Each year many baboons are brought to this leading rehabilitation centre. Victims of hunting, farming, poaching, the illegal pet trade and road collisions, they often come in orphaned and struggling to survive. Coming in as babies means that these primates need round the clock care.
As the babies grow, they are fully integrated with the other juvenile primates under a surrogate, and spend less time around volunteers. This means that they are learning life as a group, and gradually hierarchies will emerge. When they are ready, the primates start to form a troop. Initially the troop will live in an enclosure with food provided, before being transferred to a larger enclosure with very little extra provision. After what is often a 4 year process, the troops will be fully released to the wild.
Many of our family groups have enjoyed spending two weeks here as part of a greater holiday, often going on to enjoy a safari at Kruger National Park.
This is an amazing opportunity for both adults and children alike to get stuck into some conservation work, to understand a different culture and step off the beaten track to experience South African bush life.
|Day 1||Arrival day is a Monday. Other arrival days possible on request. You will be collected from Hoedspruit airport and driven up to the centre, a 90 minute journey away.|
|Day 2||You will receive a full induction and tour- and get fully stuck into the project! Expect lots of monkey hugs!|
|Day 14||Return to the airport or head on for further family travels|
6 Reviews of Family volunteering with monkeys in South Africa
Reviewed on 21 Mar 2019 by Tanja LarsenVery good and an experience of a life time :-) Read full review
Reviewed on 28 Aug 2019 by Julia MacroryA fantastic way to introduce my young child to volunteering in a developing country, because the company gave us the support and reassurance needed throughout the whole process. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Aug 2017 by Helen CookSwimming with the baboons! The people, the monkeys ... an incredible experience made special by Bob, Lynne, Mias and all the volunteers. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Dec 2016 by Pagona RoussiBe prepared for fun but also a lot of work. Do not wear glasses, the monkeys love them! Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Apr 2016 by Lee JeanesI'd rate our holiday as excellent and would recommend to anyone Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Dec 2015 by Jana LeonhardtI loved it. Read full review
For rehabilitation to be lasting and meaningful, there are various stages that the primates need to go through. Most of them will arrive at the centre at a very young age, having lost their mothers or troupe in traffic or domestic accidents. Very much like humans, they need contact and comfort for the first 15 months of their lives. This is where the volunteers come in. The project has been designed with welfare, conservation and success at the core with university studies and monitoring ensuring its merits throughout.
The rehabilitation process takes about 4 years in total: 1 year - 18 months where they need constant care, feeding and bathing, then the latter time to distance themselves from humans, form part of a troupe and be released to the wild. This is carried out using larger enclosures with less food over time, encouraging them to fend for themselves. The latter stages of rehabilitation are all about rewilding, at which point they can be released back to the wild a long way from this centre.
Protecting the world
We are passionate about encouraging our travellers to be kind to the environment as they travel. Each participant receives advice about how to care for the environment whilst they are away. This includes water usage, how to avoid single use plastic and electricity usage.
We insist that all participants bring their own water bottles when they travel with us, and clean free water is always available. We have even created a water bottle that can be purchased before departure and encourage people to use it at all stages of their journey including at the airport, on flights and whilst on their project. We are striving for all of our projects to be free of single use plastic.
PeopleThe importance of the project
The centre started when its founder rescued a monkey from death and abuse and realised that help was needed for many more. It was decided to establish a centre where orphaned, abused, injured and misplaced monkeys could be treated and rehabilitated. Now the centre is held up as an example of good practice by government bodies as well as NSPCA. It also has links with academic research organisations. However, funds are tight and charitable donations and voluntary help are crucial for its survival.
Meeting local needs
As well as helping to protect monkeys and other animals, this rehabilitation centre plays an important role in protecting the local economy. The rural area relies on its wildlife and landscape to attract tourists, as there are no big cities nearby. The centre brings visitors to the area and has created jobs for 9 local people. It also promotes local art and helps villagers to market their wares to tourists. By helping at the centre, our volunteers are ensuring its survival and allowing it to expand the number of animals it can help. They also contribute to the local economy themselves, creating jobs for domestic staff at the centre, eating locally grown produce and shopping in the town.
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in rural South Africa. Our policy is to send people to the developing world in small groups or individually. This minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination and helps them to integrate into the local community.