Nestled in the "lowveld", an hour from the iconic Kruger National Park, this non-profit organization is striving to protect and conserve the vervet monkey. This species of monkey is the most widespread of monkeys in South Africa is threatened and listed on CITES appendix 2 and as a result, often comes into contact with humans (due to there habitats being destroyed by urbanisation). As a result they are seen as "problem animals" and are often shot by farmers and other people due to misconceptions and wrongly accused of crop damaged etc.
The centre is the largest species specific (vervet monkey) centre in the world, with a population of about 500 monkeys (as well as new orphaned babies every year). The goal of the centre is to rehabilitate monkeys into new troops with a goal of releasing them back into the wild. Volunteers will be responsible for assisting the centre in the achievement of these goals and will assist in all aspects of the rehabilitation process. From hand rearing babies (if necessary), to monitoring release sites, all aspects require dedication and commitment from the volunteers.
Other tasks which the volunteers may assist with while at the centre include:
- Handling baby monkeys during baby season (November - February)
- Daily feeding of monkeys (includes food preparation)
- Cleaning of enclosures
- General maintenance around the centre
- Fund Raising activities for the centre
- Basic medical procedures
- Administering of medicine
- Assisting in the "sickbay" – for monkeys with illnesses
- Clearing vegetation for firebreaks
- Assisting with education outreach programs
- Conducting census of the monkeys (you may even learn how to use a GPS).
During the baby season (Nov – Feb) there is a possibility volunteers will work with baby monkeys, nearly all orphaned and traumatised. We introduce them to foster mothers and crèche groups, ensuring each baby is stabilised, healthy and able to drink from a bottle when handling them. During the juvenile season (Mar – Oct), you may be able to see juniors being integrated into a troop within our rehabilitation programme. Baby rehabilitation involves volunteers handling the babies in their outdoor playpen, mixing up bottles of milk, preparing foods and administering medicine if required. You will feed and monitor them throughout the day, constantly checking their progress. Be aware these babies will defecate and urinate on you quite happily - this is unavoidable so old clothes are recommended. You must remember the vervet monkeys are wild animals so expect a few 'nips' whilst they play!