Volunteer with monkeys in South Africa
Description of Volunteer with monkeys in South Africa
This primate rehabilitation centre in South Africa needs your help to care for orphaned baboons and monkeys. Each year, many baby primates are found injured and orphaned following on from encounters with humans, such as car accidents and hunting. Your role will be to help nurse these babies back to health and prepare them for life in the wild.
Set up in 1994, this highly-respected rehabilitation centre provides a temporary home for primates. The whole rehabilitation process can take up to 4 years, and there are currently 400 primates in various stages, from those that have recently been rescued to those who are ready to be released.
What will I be doing?
You will become an important member of the team, helping in a variety of roles:
- helping to care for the monkeys (this includes feeding and cuddles!)
- maintain the centre (always nice to do with a monkey on your back!)
- food preparation
- babysitting the young: bathing, bottle feeding, playing and interacting
- building new enclosures for the release to the wild
- helping to collect, harvest and grow food for the primates
On a typical day you might start by cleaning enclosures, preparing food and feeding the animals. Then, after a delicious breakfast, you could continue with bottle feeding the babies, do some health checks or work on other projects. In the afternoon you might help with building work, planting vegetables, collecting food, or working on rehabilitation projects.
You will be well-looked after while you are there. Volunteers are treated as members of an extended family, with many coming back year after year. Meal times are very sociable – especially in the evening as you sit in the firelight with a glass of wine.
You will be living in basic yet comfortable dormitories and cabins in a beautiful wooded area close to the centre. The centre is located close to the fabulous Kruger National Park in a rural, peaceful area that really allows you to soak up African life.
How does the rehabilitation process work?
Each year many baby monkeys and 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 feeding and round the clock care, and volunteers fill the parental void.
With young babies, a volunteer will care for just one primate for a 24 hour period. This involves preparing their bottle, feeding, bathing and general care. After the 24 hour period, the baby primate is rotated to another volunteer so that it does not become dependent on just one person. In this way, the babies are prepared for life in the wild from a very young age. In order to aid the rehabilitation process, there is a ‘no touching’ policy with the older monkeys and baboons at the centre.
As the babies grow, they are fully integrated with the other juvenile primates 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. This happens a long way from the centre so that there is no temptation to return.
|Day 1:||Monday. Arrive to Phalaborwa airport for collection and transfer to the project site.|
|Day 2 - 7:||Tuesday- Sunday. Induction and volunteer project takes place.|
|Day 15:||Monday. If you are just staying for 2 weeks, you will leave from Phalaborwa airport today. You can stay for up to 12 weeks however.|
|Day 16+:||Volunteer project continues for the duration of your stay|
18 Reviews of Volunteer with monkeys in South Africa
Reviewed on 23 Feb 2020 by Scott Latham5* Read full review
Reviewed on 31 Jan 2020 by Mary LeeThis experience was absolutely life changing. Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Apr 2019 by Karsten GeorgesThe contact with these very social baboons was the most memorable part of our holiday. Sometimes they play like crazy, sometimes they just like to be close and sleep so deeply when you hold them in your arms. Read full review
Reviewed on 02 Oct 2018 by Shannon HiltabrandAn amazing experience. Would recommend to anyone who loves animals and is willing to work hard. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Feb 2018 by Gill StevensonThe highlight was sitting on a stool in the babies enclosure and having the privilege of a baby baboon sitting on my boot working out how to undo my shoe laces, a 'cuddle' of baby monkeys holding... Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Oct 2018 by Stephanie ChasseloupMy most memorable moment was when I had to carry Luna (6 weeks old baby baboon) one hour in my arms while she did not know me and was terrified. Read full review
Reviewed on 06 Aug 2018 by Sheila ScottWonderful Read full review
Reviewed on 13 Nov 2018 by Christine HammondWorthwhile for the chance to help the monkeys but mostly for students in my opinion. Debbie and Steve were a great asset and positive role models. Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Nov 2017 by Lisa ByronThere wasn't a single most memorable thing, I woke to lions roaring, to monkeys on the patio outside the door, chopping trees to building roads for manual labour... Read full review
Reviewed on 04 Aug 2016 by Gillian McGowanTotally unforgettable. We didn't want to leave and wish that we had been there for longer. We will be going back. Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Sep 2016 by Jessi BrunettiI loved it, I would give it a 9/10 Read full review
Reviewed on 03 Jul 2016 by elaine thorntonExcellent. It's a very, very, special unique opportunity for anyone to embrace a very valuable volunteer role in a beautiful country. Read full review
Reviewed on 01 May 2015 by emma poundThe best 4weeks of my life, cant wait to book my next! Read full review
Reviewed on 01 May 2015 by Laura LockhardIf you love animals you'll love this volunteer work. You can't help but fall in love with them. Be ready for how difficult it is to leave them. To know these lost little ones will be able to get back out into the wild again is the best. Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Dec 2015 by Diana McKinleyIt was certainly one of the best holidays I have been on and I hope to return next year. Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Dec 2015 by Sarah DakinThe project fills a void and without it the primates would die without their mothers. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Sep 2014 by Sara LeeBeing so hands on with the Vervets and baboons was an amazing experience, as was helping to build the release site for the Vervet troop that was about to be set free. Read full review
Reviewed on 11 Sep 2014 by Angela CrosslandI would recommend this volunteering experience to anyone of a similar mindset who cares about the planet and all the creatures that we share it with. Read full review
PlanetOur projects are designed to immerse you in a different culture, living and working with local people. There’s plenty to gain personally from this. But we make sure that local people benefit too by choosing projects that bring tangible improvements to their lives.
The 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 mis-placed 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.
With scientifically based methods and techniques full rehabilitation takes about 3-4 years and happens in about 4 stages. The first stage of rehabilitation is working with the very young orphaned baby monkeys. The volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that they are regularly fed, kept warm and fully cared for.
After several months of this close care, attention and dedication babies are put into the second stage of the rehabilitation program - that is where 'family groups' are formed with monkeys of different ages and sexes. Monkeys stay in this second stage until the 'new family' have about 12-20 members and all are accepted by the other members of the family. At this stage they are living in a large enclosure with natural shrubbery, but their diets continue to be subsidised with fruit, vegetables and bread.
The next stage involves moving the troop into an even larger enclosure where the primates fend for themselves fully, yet under the careful eye of the centre to monitor their progress. Once the troop is fully functioning and surviving happily in stage 3, the release is planned. After the release the monkeys are monitored for at least 3-4 months to ensure that they are coping in nature and that the troop formulation remains as it was before release.
Protecting the world:
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.
PeopleMeeting local needs:
As well as helping to protect monkeys and other animals, this rehabilitation centre plays an important role in protecting the local economy. This 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.
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