The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer project with Blue Lizard Adventures was founded in 2003 and is located in the stunning Waterberg region of South Africa. The committed team at the farm work tirelessly to ensure each animal has the best opportunity for a second chance at living in the wild. It is a long and hard process and involves many different avenues of the conservation sector in South Africa. The end goal for this volunteer project in South Africa is to release the animals back into the wild.
The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer Project with Blue Lizard Adventures is a unique and special place, due to that they are very successful at releasing animals back into the wild in South Africa. This volunteer project in South Africa is also an incredible opportunity for volunteers to gain hands on experience of wildlife care and husbandry as well as experiencing South Africa’s amazing country and culture. The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer project with Blue Lizard Adventures is also a great opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts, biologists, conservationists or indeed anyone, to get involved in true wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and release.
Training will be given in all aspects of animal care for the Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer Project. During your stay as a volunteer you will learn lots about vervet monkeys, as well as about the African bush in general.
On departure from the volunteer project, Blue Lizard Adventures volunteers will receive a certificate of practical experience in wildlife care, English language, eco-tourism and game ranch management.
Apart from caring for, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife, the farm also runs outreach programs educating farmers, land owners and settlements and giving talks at schools, clubs, organisations, conservancies and the farm itself.
Vervet monkeys are classified as “old world monkeys,” meaning that they have been around for over 65 million years – long before apes and humans. Vervet monkeys are one of South Africa’s five indigenous primates. The other four are the lesser bushbaby, the thick-tailed bushbaby, the samango monkey and the chacma baboon.
Vervet monkeys live in close-knit troops of 5–40 animals, Led by the Alpha female and protected by the dominant male. Females have one baby at a time, typically every 1.5 years. Babies are born throughout the year but mostly between October and December. Vervet’s are omnivorous, and eat fruits, flowers, seeds, leaves, shoots, bird’s eggs, insects, lizards, etc. They continually patrol their territory to defend their boundaries and search for food. Vervet’s only feed during the day and sleep in trees at night. Ideally, they prefer to feed in the morning and late afternoon, but if food is scarce, they might be forced to feed throughout the day or when food is available.
Man is the biggest threat to vervet monkeys in the wild. In addition to habitat encroachment and urbanisation, thousands of vervet monkeys are trapped and sold every year for medical research. Vervet monkeys are also eradicated by farmers due to the misconception that they destroy fruit crops. The farming community is responsible for the majority of the orphaned vervet monkey babies. The vervet monkey is currently listed as a vulnerable species on Appendix Two of CITES (Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species).
Volunteers at the Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm in South Africa will work directly alongside the experienced staff and will be trained in all aspects of primate care, including; “surrogate parents”, introducing juveniles to existing troops at the sanctuary, and preparing established troops for release. There may also be a chance for long-term volunteers to live at the release site and monitor the progress of the newly released troop.
Vervet monkeys show their emotions through biting, they bite when they are happy, when sad, they give you little love bites and they bite much harder when they are upset with you! Expect a few bruises (especially in the first few days) you will get urinated and pooped on (we call it “Monkey blessings”) so you will be dirty at the end of the day. It will all seem worth it when you have gained the trust and confidence of one of our orphans who climbs onto your lap for a cuddle or a nap.
The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteers’ daily tasks include:
-Feeding of animals in the wildlife care
-Making baby bottles and feeding orphaned babies
-Caring for and playing with baby monkeys, as surrogate parent and/or in the sanctuaries “kindergarten”
-Caring for injured or sick animals
-Assisting with basic medical practices, administering medications
-Cleaning of cages, camps, clinic, kitchen, bomas and enclosures
-Creating natural environments in enclosures by assistant with enclosure design and enrichment
-Developing behaviour enrichment programs for the animals
-Assisting with going out on call to collect monkeys and/or food supplies
-Assisting with introduction of new monkeys
-Monitoring monkeys requiring daily attention
-Building of new camps and quarantine facilities
-Writing up reports and keeping data
-Assisting with fundraising and social media efforts
-24 hour emergency stand-by (once a week)
Although the primary focus is on vervet monkeys, volunteers at the project may also get to experience other sanctuary wildlife at The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm in South Africa including zebra, kudu, giraffe, warthog, porcupine, mongoose, meerkat and capuchin, as well as the many wild animals living on the Groot Nylsoog River and its marsh passing through the reserve.
A typical day at the farm starts at 07:45am and finishes between 17:00pm (winter) and 18:00pm (summer). The needs of the animals come first at the farm therefore; working hours and duties can change at short notice.
Volunteers can also spend their off-time relaxing at the sanctuary pool, reading or going on a hike in the mountains.
The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer project is based near a small town, Bela Bela, in the Waterberg area of South Africa. The sanctuary is remote and there is no public transport to town. However, volunteers may have the opportunity to visit town in coordination with trips to collect supplies for the sanctuary.
Volunteers at The Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer programme in South Africa will stay in shared accommodation, with a 4-bed women’s room with en-suite bathroom and a 4-bed men’s room with en-suite bathroom. Fitted sheets are provided, however, volunteers must bring a sleeping bag. We can arrange private accommodation for couples at extra cost. There is also a community kitchen and living room with TV/DVD. The house has hot water and electricity and there are free self-service laundry facilities available.
Brunch and dinner are provided each day (by staff chef), and volunteer project is able to cater for vegetarians. The tap water is safe to drink. There must not be excessive alcohol consumption due to the nature of the work
For additional add-ons: for R500 volunteer project staff will provide volunteer with towels, duvet and blanket (heated in winter), new coffee mug, headlamp and bush camping chair. Wi-Fi access is also available for your own computer for an extra R100 per week.
Caring for animals requires patience, compassion, and a calm demeanour.
A positive attitude, willingness to help and learn, and a sense of humour are essential.
Volunteers should expect to be dirty and exhausted by the end of the day!
The work is not too physically demanding but a reasonable level of fitness is required.
There are no set dates for volunteers to join this volunteer project in South Africa, although arrivals and departures are on Mondays to minimise travel costs for volunteer’s .Volunteers just need to inform Blue Lizard Adventures of their ideal dates for joining the volunteer project.
We will gladly assist you in booking airport transfers from Oliver Tambo Johannesburg International to the Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm and back with AVIS Chauffeur Service at a special discounted rate (180km).
The Bela Bela region area is very low risk for malaria, but it is incumbent upon each person to receive medical advice on vaccinations and malaria prophylactics. Due to the nature of working with animals, it is recommended that volunteers are up to date with tetanus and rabies vaccinations. However, it is again recommended that all volunteers seek medical and travel advice from their GP and/or nurse.
If you are booked to volunteer at the Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer project and have any space in your luggage, the farm is always in need donated items for the monkeys. Any donation will be gratefully received.
Blue Lizard Adventures suggests any of the following for donations:
Pampers nappies-newborn to size 3
50ml and 250ml baby milk bottles and teats
Baby bottle brushes
- All meals whilst at Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation and Wildlife Care Farm volunteer project with Blue Lizard Adventures.
- Sanctuary activities
- International flights to South Africa
- Passport / visa
- Travel insurance, which is compulsory for all participants and cancellation insurance
- Personal expenses such as telephone bills, Internet, souvenirs, personal items, alcohol, chocolate any additional excursions undertaken by the volunteer.