Volunteer at a Primate Rescue Center in South Africa

Limpopo, South Africa Wildlife & Environmental Conservation



Vervet monkeys are one of South Africa’s five indigenous primates, though their numbers are declining due to laboratory testing, use as traditional medicine, being sold in the illegal pet trade, or being shot by farmers as vermin. As an integral part of the South African ecological system, it’s vital that these animals be protected.

This volunteer program brings you to a wildlife rehabilitation and conservation center in the Waterberg district north of Pretoria, where you will help with a variety of tasks such as cleaning the grounds and cages, preparing food, making enrichment tools, building and repairing enclosures, and more. The center is home to more than 300 vervet monkeys as well as lesser bush babies and Chacma baboons. You will work alongside a team of dedicated staff, field guide students, fellow volunteers, and local veterinarians to take in injured and orphaned monkeys, form troops, and release rehabilitated troops to friendly game farms.


Protecting vervet monkeys is vitally important to the South African ecosystem: their messy eating habits distribute food from high places to the ground for ground-feeding animals, and they provide natural insect control by eating the eggs and larvae of many species - they also help with germination, pollination, and dispersal of various flora.

The Wildlife Care and Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation Facility currently is home to more than 300 monkeys, and to date has rescued, rehabilitated, and released 13 troops (about 300 monkeys) to friendly game farms. You will be part of important work in giving these animals a second life after losing their freedom due to habitat destruction, illegal shooting, snares, electrocution, or the illegal pet and traditional medicine trade.

Field conditions

You will work directly with monkeys at the conservation center, and can expect to start at 7:45am and wrap up at 5:00pm in the winter, or 6:00pm in the summer. Your exact duties can change depending on project needs, but generally can include:

Cleaning the grounds, cages, and food preparation area; Preparing food; Feeding the animals; Building and repairing cages; Helping with fire clearance; and Making enrichment tools for the animals

You should be in reasonably good health to take part in this program, and you should be prepared for the monkeys to express their emotions through biting and getting you dirty.

Arrival and orientation

You will fly into O.R. Tambo International Airport, where you can either plan your own travels to the project site at Bela Bela, or coordinate with Khaya Volunteer Projects to arrange airport transfer.

Once you arrive onsite, you will have a tour of the compound, meet the staff, and meet the other volunteers that you’ll work with during your stay. The team will train you in the different tasks you will take on, with new assignments and projects given to you based on project needs as well as your interests and abilities.

Your stay


  • HousingVolunteer house

  • Provided mealsBreakfast, dinner

Accommodation description

This project is based in the bush on a privately-owned wildlife reserve. You will stay in one of two dormitory-style, gender-separated rooms in the volunteer house, which includes ensuite bathrooms and a kitchen and lounge areas. Private bedrooms are available for an additional fee, and internet access is available for a daily or weekly rate. During the weekends, you’re invited to hang out at the bar, play a game of pool, or go swimming. Three meals per day are included with your program fee, and volunteers share cooking and cleaning duties.

Because the house is based onsite at the volunteer project, you can expect to see monkeys, baboons, porcupines, zebra, and other animals - and because some of the orphaned monkeys need 24/7 care, there may be some living in the house with you.


Volunteers will be staying in a bedroom that accommodates up to 4 people.


from $670 USDper week

from $670 USDper week


What’s included

  • Contribution to the running costs of the project

  • Supervision of your activities

  • 3 meals a day

  • Accommodation in shared volunteer dorms (male and female separated)

What’s not included

  • Bedding/towels

  • Transport to the project from airport

  • Immunizations

  • Visa

  • Personal expenses

  • Airfare

Start dates

Volunteer work starts Mondays.

Established in 2005, Khaya Volunteer Projects offers unique and affordable volunteer and gap year projects in South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zanzibar. Khaya projects run the gamut of volunteer interests with project areas including Children; Communities; Sports Development; Healthcare; Wildlife and Conservation; and Education projects. A common thread running through all Khaya projects is a commitment to ethical volunteering. They work to ensure that your volunteering efforts and your financial contributions are used in the best way possible. In alignment with that goal, Khaya, with its base and several offices in Africa, can and does assist its local partners and projects in Southern and Eastern Africa with keeping the focus on responsible and ethical volunteering.

Their mission is simple but resonant:

“...we provide volunteering opportunities for international travellers that are both unique and as affordable as possible with high standards of service and facilities. Needless to say, we also prioritise our selected volunteer projects’ needs in ways that benefit both project and you, the volunteer.”

Honest pricing, crystal clear information, timely communication, and great service are all hallmarks of how they run a successful organization. True to the meaning of “Khaya” in several African languages, Khaya Volunteers makes sure its volunteers feel secure, well informed, and that they belong to the project to which they commit. Khaya believes that if you join on of their volunteering projects, you’ll have an African experience you’ll never forget.

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