Volunteer at a permitted Monkey Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release centre in the lush province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. There are two aspects to this monkey rescue and rehabilitation volunteer project. Through the year, continuous assistance is needed with monkey rescues and the care of the monkeys going through rehabilitation in troops in large enclosures and those with special needs. Vervet Monkeys-although not endangered- have a very challenging time in South Africa. They are often illegally hunted, hit by cars, killed by dogs, killed by humans for the bushmeat trade or just pure animal cruelty. The other aspect is baby season (late October to March) when volunteers are needed to act as surrogate mothers caring for the rescued and orphaned baby Vervet monkeys. Volunteers in baby season will have surrogate duties for the first 3 months of the babies lives until the start of the long process of rehabilitation and introduction to a troop, so they can eventually be released safely.

Starting daysAll year around (baby monkey season is from mid-October to the early March)
Minimum Requirements2 weeks and longer subject to visa requirements. A minimum age of 16 years old if accompanied by a parent or guardian if permission is granted. For baby season, a miniumum of 21 years old when dealing with the newborns rescued monkeys.
Cost£980 for 2 weeks and £350 for each additional week
What is included3 vegan meals a day, accommodation, meeting you at King Shaka International Airport in Durban, airport collection and drop-off, pre-departure support, in-country staff, 24- emergency help and more
What is not includedFlights, visas (if needed), travel insurance, spending money for days off
Best forGappers, career breakers, families, post-retirement gappers, animal lovers, conservation students, nature lovers, volunteers who like to get hands-on, primate researchers, veterinary students
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Project Description

The Monkey Rescue and Rehabilitation volunteer project has a heartwarming and inspiring history. It began in 1995 as an educational awareness organization, seeking to raise awareness about Vervet Monkeys and their plight. Over the years, the project’s scope expanded, recognizing the urgent need for rescue and care for Vervet Monkeys, as they lacked sufficient protection from provincial and national government legislation.

To meet the increasing demands for rescue and care, the project secured a 10-hectare lease on a tribal nature reserve in the countryside in 2015. This larger space has become a sanctuary for Vervet Monkeys, where they can be rehabilitated and reintegrated into larger troops. This sanctuary

The dedication and impact of the Monkey Rescue and Rehabilitation project are evident through the staggering number of rescue call-outs they respond to. With over 1000 call-outs annually and sometimes up to ten calls every day, the project team works tirelessly to address a variety of Vervet Monkey injuries and emergencies.

Sadly, many of the rescues involve baby Vervet Monkeys orphaned or injured during incidents with dogs, other monkeys, or human-related incidents. The months after baby season also bring challenges, with juvenile monkeys often suffering trauma and injuries from road accidents.

The project’s unwavering commitment to each rescued monkey is evident through their “high-care” facility, where the primates receive specialised attention and treatment after being taken to a veterinary doctor. Over 80% of rescued monkeys bear air gun pellets lodged in their bodies, highlighting the cruelty they face.

Upon recovery, the rehabilitated monkeys are released back into their home territory, where they belong. Alternatively, some are transferred to the main wildlife rehabilitation and sanctuary to receive the best possible care and protection.

The project’s extensive network of support stems from rescue call-outs originating from members of the public, animal care organisations, veterinary practices, the police, and municipal offices. This collaborative effort showcases the community’s dedication to safeguarding these incredible creatures.

The Monkey Rescue and Rehabilitation volunteer project stands as a beacon of hope and compassion, striving to protect and rehabilitate Vervet Monkeys, one rescue at a time. The dedication and care provided by the project team exemplify the profound impact volunteers can make in the lives of these precious animals.

The Monkey Rescue and Rehabilitation volunteer project carries out rescues 24-hours a day, 365 days a year and…..

  • carry out or coordinate primate rescues
  • assist with Vervet sanctuary, neonatal care and rehabilitation
  • distribute information/educational leaflets including doing talks at schools and to other interested groups
  • lobby on behalf of Vervets and for the protection of indigenous wildlife habitat
  • encourage people to plant the indigenous trees and shrubs that provide food and shelter for Vervets and other indigenous animals
  • fundraise to cover the cost of rescues, veterinary treatment, high-care and rehabilitation
  • assist people who are having problems with monkeys
  • assist residential and golfing estates, hotels, casinos, businesses, restaurants and B&B’s where monkeys are a “problem”
  • advise and assist with the establishment of feeding stations
  • organise and carry out snare sweeps

….. so there is a lot of work for you as a volunteer to assist with

Your volunteer duties out of baby season may include:

  • Assist with the maintenance and upkeep of enclosures
  • Monitor and observe monkeys in their enclosures and report any incidents should they occur
  • Collection and sorting food
  • Preparation of food- chopping fresh produce and preparing dry foods
  • Keeping food storage areas clean and tidy
  • Washing of feeding bowls and food prep areas
  • Delivering food to enclosures (ONLY permanent staff are permitted to carry food INTO enclosures)
  • Enrichment projects for mental and physical stimulation of captive primates to reduce boredom
  • Assisting with fundraisers or school educational visits
  • Assist with veterinary visits
  • Assist on rescues and animal cruelty reports at the local police stations
  • Distributing educational leaflets in areas where cruelty has been reported
  • Checking, feeding and caring for any other rescued animals at the project
  • Assisting with the vegetable garden and indigenous plant nursery
  • Checking boundary fences and repairs
  • Construction of enclosure “furniture” and enrichments
  • Clearing vegetation, litter and snares on the nature reserve
  • Monitoring and recording of information on free ranging troops of wild monkeys
  • Reporting any injured monkeys in the enclosures to the management
  • …and any other chores volunteers are willing to assist with

Your volunteer duties with the baby monkeys in baby season may include the above and:

  • Preparing infant formula as frequent as every two hours
  • Washing and sterilising bottles
  • Bottle feeding of babies
  • Bathing babies
  • Any care similar to human babie. You may be required to take a baby or babies with you to your volunteer accommodation for night feeds
  • Cleaning babies sleep boxes
  • Keeping the babies play areas clean and hygienic
  • Washing baby blankets and soft toys as baby monkeys are very messy
  • Providing enrichments in the baby play area with splash pools, hammocks, and swings
  • Assisting with introduction to a troop
  • …and of course, falling absolutely in love with these delicate little imps

Trained long-term or returning volunteers hold a special place in our project, and we prioritize them for the essential around-the-clock surrogate care needed by rescued monkeys. We understand the importance of providing stability and minimizing disruptions in the lives of these monkeys, who have already endured significant trauma.

Given the nature of working with wildlife, the daily schedule may vary depending on the number of Vervet monkeys being rescued or released. Our work revolves around the needs of these precious animals, making it an unpredictable yet highly rewarding experience.

For those willing to assist as nursemaids, please be aware that newborns require feeding every two hours throughout the night, demanding dedication and commitment. As they grow and reach around four weeks old, feeding shifts to roughly every four hours, and they gradually start sleeping through the night. We appreciate the flexibility and adaptability of volunteers assisting with bottle feeding, as each baby’s schedule may vary.

If you’re a researcher, honours, masters, or post-doctorate student, we extend a warm welcome to further your research at our center. Our research practices are entirely non-invasive, ensuring that the monkeys are not harmed in any way. Your contributions to research play a vital role in expanding our understanding of these incredible creatures and supporting their conservation.

As you embark on this volunteering journey, we encourage open communication and a strong sense of collaboration. Together, we strive to create a nurturing and supportive environment for the rescued monkeys, giving them the care and attention they need to thrive. Your dedication and passion will make a meaningful impact on the lives of these Vervet monkeys, and we look forward to having you as part of our team.

Typical day

7 and 8:00am- time for your breakfast and start preparing the food for the monkeys breakfast.

8 to 12:00- volunteer duties are dependent on the season. If at the baby nursery and high care or the the sanctuary and monkey rehabilitation enclosures onsite

12 to 13:00- it’s time for lunch, a quick break, and a catch up

13 to 17:30- volunteer duties are dependent on the season. And if at the baby nursery and high care homebase or the sanctuary and wildlife rehabialtion enclosures. Rescues also take place throughout the year at any given time.

17:30 – Finally it is time for dinner which is a good South African style vegan supper. Trust us when we say that vegan never tasted so good!

17:30 to bedtime- time to relax, watch TV or play some pool in the games room. If on nursemaid duties, you may have some feeds throughout the evening. And monkey cuddles before babies get put to bed.

Please be aware this schedule can be disrupted with feeding times due to the age of the rescued baby monkeys. Also, if assisting with monkey rescue call outs, they are sporadic, unplanned and unpredictable.

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Accommodation

During your stay, you’ll be provided with comfortable and welcoming accommodation at the volunteer home, where the volunteer coordinators also reside. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with fellow volunteers as bedrooms are shared, typically with one to three individuals of the same gender. Moreover, couples, families, and friends are more than welcome, and arrangements can be made to accommodate them together. To ensure a personalised and intimate experience, we limit the number of volunteers to a maximum of eight at any given time.

Our cozy bedrooms feature single beds, and we provide all the necessary bedding to make your stay convenient and enjoyable. The shared bathrooms are equipped with essential amenities, including a hand basin, bath, handheld shower, and toilet, offering comfort and convenience for all.

For some leisurely entertainment during your downtime, you’ll find a games room and a communal TV area where volunteers can unwind and connect with each other. Staying connected is also made easy with WIFI accessibility throughout the premises. When the weather calls for it, take a refreshing dip in the pool to beat the balmy hot and humid days of Durban. Please bring towels for the pool and beach.

There are two kitchens. One for the preparation of food for animals and one for the preparation of food for humans.

We understand the importance of keeping your belongings safe, which is why we offer lockable cupboards for you to store your valuables with peace of mind.

For your laundry needs, their is a washing machine ensuring you can keep your belongings fresh and clean throughout your stay.

At our accommodations, we aim to provide a home away from home, where you can relax, bond with other volunteers, and make unforgettable memories during your volunteer journey.

Food

At our project, we proudly uphold a strictly vegan food policy, promoting an animal and earth-friendly environment. All meals provided on the project are thoughtfully crafted to be 100% vegan, ensuring that both the food served and any items brought into the project adhere to our values.

For volunteers who occasionally crave non-vegan dishes, fret not! The surrounding area boasts a plethora of restaurants where you can explore and indulge in a variety of cuisines outside the project.

Back at the project, you’ll be treated to delightful vegan meals that cater to different times of the day. Start your morning with a self-service breakfast offering cereals, toast, and spreads, providing a nutritious and energizing start to your day. During lunchtime, you can enjoy either packed sandwiches with fruit or create your own salad or sandwiches at home, offering flexibility and variety in your midday meals.

When dinnertime arrives, you’ll be treated to a tantalizing array of traditional South African dishes. From the beloved bobotie to “pap en sous,” and a diverse selection of pastas, curries, stews, and braais (BBQ), your taste buds are in for a delightful adventure. Additionally, you’ll find tea, coffee, and juice provided to keep you refreshed throughout your stay.

Should you desire any extras like sweets or vegan chocolates, you can easily find them at local shops during your free time.

Embrace the opportunity to savour the rich flavours of South African cuisine, which is known for its tastiness and diversity. Your vegan meals are carefully prepared to ensure a delectable and fulfilling dining experience while staying true to our principles of sustainability and compassion.

Location

Welcome to the volunteer accommodation, a charming double-story house located in the secure and countryside suburb of Summerveld in Durban.

Prepare to bask in the beautiful subtropical climate of Durban, with an average of 320 sunny days per year. While some months, like February, may be more humid, winters are mild and sun-drenched, making it an alluring destination year-round. Durban is a vibrant tapestry of European, Indian, and indigenous Zulu cultures, creating a unique and diverse atmosphere.

Immerse yourself in the city’s allure, boasting golden stretches of beaches, lush tropical vegetation, and a culinary journey filled with delicious and spicy food influenced by Indian culture. In fact, Durban hosts one of the largest populations of Indians outside of India, infusing the city with a rich tapestry of flavors and traditions.

The area is “abundant with shopping malls”horsey country” , with horse yards in the neighbouring area to take part in outrides for a fee on days off. For sightseeing adventures, getting around is a breeze. You can choose from various options like numerous tour operators, taxis, Uber, and Bolt services, ensuring you have easy access to all the exciting attractions that Durban offers.

As a popular tourist destination, Durban not only captivates with its picturesque beaches but also surprises with the fusion of culture and wildlife found in urban areas and nature reserves, often nestled within the suburbs. Prepare for an unforgettable experience, where you can delve into the vibrant city life while being close to nature’s wonders.

Durban welcomes you with open arms to be part of its dynamic blend of culture, nature, and warm hospitality. Get ready for an extraordinary journey that combines meaningful volunteering with the allure of this captivating coastal gem.

Free time activities

Durban is in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the home of the mighty Zulu Kingdom famous for the warrior Shaka. It has a subtropical climate and is home to the most amazing wildlife and vegetation. There is plenty to do in your free time whether wildlife, cultural or marine life are your interests. Here are a few suggestions

  • uShaka Marine World is definitely one of the star attractions if in Durban. You can snorkel lagoons, feed fish and rays, cage dive with sharks and “walk the ocean”. Or just catch the penguin or seal feeding times
  • Take a boat tour with the KwaZulu-Natal Shark Board, travel through harbour and watch the servicing of the shark nets
  • Visit PheZulu Safari Park to part in a Zulu cultural tour. Learn about Nqombothi (traditional Zulu beer) brewing, spear making, beading, weaving, pottery and also traditional dancing and singing. This is not to be missed and can be incorporated too with the reptile sanctuary tour.
  • Beaches…beaches and more beaches…Umhlanga is one of our favourites for swimming. And the water is usually so warm
  • Elephant Experience and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Big 5 Safari Tour. This is a full day trip to one of South Africa’s best Big 5 wildlife reserves. The full day safari starts very early and can take up to 12 hours but so worth it! You can also include visiting the elephants at Bayete Zulu
  • Visit the Anglo-Zulu war battlefields on tour
  • Do a ½ day Durban city tour visiting landmarks, botanical gardens and market for famous Durban curry spices and souvenirs
  • Do a ½ day Durban wildlife tour of Natal Sharks Board and Umgeni Bird park
  • Overnight in the Drakensberg at the Sani Lodge Backpackers and take a 4 x 4 tour up the Sani Pass the next day to the top and visit the mountainous country of Lesotho, the highest point of southern Africa.

Durban has the largest Indian community outside of Indian which has made its mark on the local cuisine. One of the most famous culinary delights coming out of Durban is the spicy bunny chow. Despite the name, bunny chows do not involve bunnies but are a spicy curry. You choose your preference for meat or vegetarian in a hollowed out loaf of white bread and are absolutely delicious although notoriously spicy! Also enjoy fantastic samoosas, breyanis and rotis!

Boredom is definitely not an option in Durban with culture, history, wildlife, shopping, beaches and stunning scenery!

For more information or to book, either fill in the contact form or please email: info@volunteerinternationaladventures.com

A few reviews from past volunteers…

“There were two incredible and unforgettable aspects of my volunteering experience in South Africa. The first was the interaction with monkeys. Despite my familiarity with animals, being a vegan who loves all creatures, monkeys held a unique place in my heart. Their ability to express emotions was unlike anything I had witnessed in other animals. My affection for these creatures remains unwavering, and this new experience served as a gateway to understanding my true self and passion. I never felt fatigued or unwilling to care for and love them; it seemed as though they needed me as much as I needed them, creating a profound connection.

Additionally, I developed a deep admiration for Carol and Steve. Their unwavering commitment to their work, a life devoid of holidays, entirely dedicated to animals, left a lasting impression on me. Witnessing their dedication fuelled my desire to lead a similar life.

Beyond these experiences, my heart opened up to the extraordinary individuals I encountered. I discovered the potential for a better world in their dedication, patience, knowledge, and love.

While I was there, I discovered an energy within myself that I never knew existed. The realization that these small creatures depended on me, relying on my love and care after losing their mothers, required me to be there for them 24/7. Surprisingly, I found myself capable of meeting these demands, and this experience transformed me into a better and stronger person”

– Esther Overjero, Spanish (December 2023)

“I had an incredible experience volunteering with Vervet Monkey Rescue & Rehabilitation. Working hands-on with baby monkeys from birth to 3 months old brought immense joy to my heart. These baby monkeys lost their mothers, so it’s up to the volunteers to feed, bathe, help clean up and play with them and it was so rewarding. These babies taught me humility, appreciate all of God’s creatures and find joy. The provided room and board, along with the quality of food and facilities, exceeded my expectations, making my stay comfortable and enjoyable. Steve and Carol extensive knowledge about animal rescue added immense value to the overall experience. Moreover, the unforgettable excursions on safari with fellow volunteers created cherished memories that will stay with me forever. Imagine taking a walk with a giraffe, being close and personal with an elephant and relaxing with a cheetah! Highly recommend this rewarding opportunity!”

– Barbara Guzik Gasienica, American (October 2023)

“I had such an amazing 8-week experience volunteering with Vervet Monkey Rescue & Rehabilitation. The moment you enter the place and see such a precious baby monkey is breathtaking. Taking care of these babies is just incredible and so rewarding; you get to feed them, cuddle them, bath them, and play with them, which just really makes your heart jump of joy. I fell totally in love with these baby monkeys…The place where we got to stay was also insanely beautiful! The place is clean, the area is nice and calm, and the view is just incredible! Steve and Carol are amazing people and I am so lucky that I got to meet them. They take amazing care of you, and you can learn so much from them about rescuing and taking care of the monkeys. The passion and dedication they put into their organization is just incredible to see and experience. They also give you the opportunity to go on trips with fellow volunteers, with whom you can gain some lovable memories which you will never forget. I could not have wished for a more rewarding, lovable and wonderful experience than this!”

– Gitte van Empel, Dutch (October 2023)

“To describe the last 2 weeks in words would not cover the half of all the fantastic and amazing experience, neither the warm and friendly hosting of the managers, nor my feelings and love for the work with the baby vervet monkeys. The insights and experiences I gained during my stay were fascinating and overwhelming and I do highly admire the host family for the incredible and dedicated work they’re doing for years to rescue and rehabilitate animals (especially vervet monkey (babies)). I really could learn a lot about vervets, country and culture”

Natalie Rauss, Swiss (January 2023)

“If you are ready to live a LIFETIME experience, just go ahead, this project is for you ! The project managers are the sweetest and most friendly people you can meet. Always ready to help you, totally devoted to animal rights and to vervet monkeys more specifically, they’ll learn you everything they know about monkeys and South Africa ! But Watch out… you might fall in love with this wonderful monkeys… just shure you know it 😉 There are as well many things to do and discover in the area. Thanks again you two, you made of that Time such a dream🐒”

-Karine Thiebaud, French (January 2023)

“The most amazing and rewarding two weeks caring for orphaned baby monkeys. The founders of the rescue organisation are fantastic, so passionate, very welcoming and did everything they could to make our stay memorable. It was very hard to leave and we can’t wait to visit again”

– Kadie Hodges, British (November 2022)

“What an unforgettable and rewarding experience! I feel so lucky to have spent 2 weeks forming an incredible bond with a 5 month old monkey, going on rescues all over the city, witnessing vet procedures and surgeries firsthand, and learning about monkeys & activism directly from the program’s founders. It was an unexpected treat waking up everyday to wild monkeys playing on the porch and delicious homemade vegan dishes”

– Christina Taggart, American (October 2022)