Volunteering with the Vervet Monkey Foundation is a unique and fulfilling experience, and it will be all the more rewarding if you are prepared before travelling. Having everything organised early on will leave time to get excited without having to worry about the logistics, and will ensure that you can get maximum enjoyment once you arrive.
Rehabilitation, Education, Sanctuary – The Vervet Monkey Foundation is a non-profit organization (#020 694 NPO) established in 1993. Our centre is based in Tzaneen in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. We rehabilitate and provide sanctuary to over 500 primates, orphaned, injured, abused, ex-laboratory or unwanted pets. In addition to this we provide:
- A program to rehabilitate orphaned and injured primates.
- A program to research the claims of damage and problems caused by vervet monkeys and offer possible solutionsto co-existence.
- An education program to inform the public of the role that the vervet monkey plays in the eco-system and how to prevent human – vervet conflict.
- A sanctuary for primates unfortunate enough to be unreleasable
but still able to have a quality of life to be ambassadors for their species.
- An opportunity for volunteers to study the life style and environment of the vervet monkey primate species.
- A project for volunteers to become involved in the conservation and rehabilitation of this unique indigenous primate.
- Opportunities for volunteers, vet nurses, gap year students and those involved and interested in primate conservation.
- More recently promotion of a vegetarian, ultimately vegan lifestyle to help sustain the environment, prevent habitat loss, animal suffering and to make a contribution towards helping many of the world’s issues.
You will sleep in the volunteer village, work with monkeys, or on projects such as building or painting to benefit the monkeys & have time off to visit local waterfalls, rivers, or other sites of interest. At the VMF, you will get to participate in a variety of tasks depending on the time of year to help the monkeys from feeding orphaned babies to constructing new enclosures. This is an ideal project for anyone who has ever dreamed of working with primates.
The duties that you will have to undertake are varied and change during the year and all volunteers are tasked to do a variety of chores, such as, collecting & cleaning baby bottles, and making baby formula, cleaning and preparing bowls of fruit & vegetables for the monkeys, washing monkey blankets, monitoring monkeys in enclosures, working in our sickbay area, occasional cooking, washing food bowls and collecting seed pods for monkeys.
In addition, volunteers will also help with the building of new enclosures for monkeys. Construction involves building, painting, sanding, welding, fence-building, knot-tying, firebreaks & invader species eradication. Sometimes you might be asked to cut grass & prepare thatch bundles for construction, or to letter & paint signs for enclosures. Work can be hard under the african sun but very rewarding.
Your evenings will either be spent quietly at the village or up at the cottage where volunteers can socialise and get to know one another. You will eat vegetarian meals and be able to use the internet for a small donation.
Touring can be arranged through us on arrival. We can organise trips with a local qualified tour guide to places such as Kruger and Graskop.
Other areas you may help with are driving, fundraising, office work, or data input. We are often looking for qualified Vets and Vet nurses to volunteer and help us, please enquire within.
A great opportunity to volunteer with wildlife in South Africa.
Volunteering with primates is a unique experience.
Work and activities
You will not need any prior experience as we will teach you everything you need to know – just come with enthusiasm and an interest in conservation! If you have any specific skills or interest we are happy to try and utilize them during your stay. No matter what you do, you can expect that it is hot, dirty and hands on!
• Monitoring and report writing of monkeys around the Sanctuary
• Cleaning monkey cages, washing feed bowls & plates and cleaning blankets
• Assisting with introductions and rehabilitation of new monkeys.
• Assisting with basic medical practices and administering medications.
• Clearing vegetation for fire breaks, looking after the volunteer village.
• Assisting with education outreach programs
• Participating in fundraising, newsletters, we can also use graphic design skills
Volunteers get one day off per week; we provide a lift into Tzaneen to purchase supplies, swim in the nearby lodge pool, spa or relax over cappucino in the mall.Volunteers here for 4 weeks are also invited to take one touring day per week to visit local sights. Volunteers often tour with new friends met at the VMF.
You may wish to hire a car with some friends you meet here. Popular tours include the world famous Kruger National Park, only
1 hour from here. Blyde River Can- yon, God’s Window, stunning water- falls and of course, wildlife viewing.
Working with primates
While the vervet monkey population are used to having volunteers around, they are still wild animals and are not tame. Understanding and remembering this is key to your safety, and volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form at the start of their placement that states that you understand you are working at your own risk. This is a precaution, and as long as you listen to the advice given to you by the VMF there should be no problems for the duration of your placement.
When you visit the doctor before you travel to ask about vaccinations that you will need, you must ask for an anti-tetanus jab before you are allowed to work with the monkeys and a test for tuberculosis. These are essential and failure to prove that you have had either or these will result in you not being able to work with the primates.
Once all of the technical details and arrangements have been made, you will be able to get the most out of your volunteering placement with the Vervet Monkey Foundation. It really is a wonderful experience that you will never forget, and you will be helping to protect one of Africa’s most intelligent and beautiful species.
Preparing to travel
Booking travel arrangements in advance is essential for an easy journey to the VMF and will also ensure the best deals on flights. The nearest airport is OR Tambo International in Johannesburg, and it is best to book a flight that lands before 8am – this will ensure that you can catch a bus from Pretoria that day rather than finding somewhere to sleep for the night. You can catch the Gautrain from the airport that will go to Pretoria, from where a bus will take you to Tzaneen. This will need to be booked in advance, and can be done through the VMF. The bus leaves at 10:30am, but if the flight lands too late, Pretoria Backpackers is a suitable place to stay for the night before catching the bus the following morning. From Tzaneen, there will be a lift to the VMF.
KIT TO BRING (not to worry, anything you forget can be purchased locally!)
- Sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner
- Torch/flashlight or headlight and small battery or rechargeable camping light for cabin
- Your own adaptor for charging equipment (3 rounded pin system)
- Travel wash & Towel, bottle for drinking water
- Driving licence (for hiring vehicles)
- Old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or torn, lots of old T-shirts, shorts, long pants
- Separate set of clothes for evening use or travelling
- Lightweight long sleeved clothes (to protect you from the strong sun)
- Work gloves and hiking boots (not essential)
- Sunscreen, after sun, insect repellent
- Malaria tablets & mosquito net
- Sarong / pyjamas / swimwear
- Flip-flops / sandals
- Trainers / sneakers
- Alarm clock / watch
- Sunhat, waterproof jacket, contact lenses if you wear glasses
- Co-ordinator’s telephone number in case of delays etc 0027 82 725 9432
- Digital camera with computer cables for downloading images
- First aid kit (antibiotic ointment, anti-diarrhoea tablets, re hydration drinks,
headache tablets, hand sanitizer, wet wipes)
- Optional- if you have room, we are always in need of bunny drinking water bottles or e-mail us for our latest wish list. We sell cruelty free toiletries in our on site shop also.
You will sleep in a wooden cabin, usually with 1 other volunteer. We provide a storage box, mattress, table, pillow and sheets but please ensure you bring a sleeping bag. There is no electricity in the village but accessories can be charged at the cottage. You may wish to bring a small battery powered or re-chargeable camping light to light up your cabin at night for reading etc.
The volunteer village houses a warm, gas-heated shower, eco-toilet (composting toilet), washing sink,fridge, and a campfire, which is great for an evening under the stars or a traditional braai (South African barbecue!).
Laundering is provided free of charge Mon – Fri. You can bring your own detergent for extra hand washing of small items if you wish.
Rate: 4 weeks R 9500/ 900 USD per 4 weeks