Vervet Monkey Foundation Program

By January 29, 2020 Conservation Volunteering

Volunteer World International are proud to offer the opportunity to our volunteers to spend time at one of the largest centres for Vervet Monkeys in the world and undertake hugely rewarding and massively beneficial work wholly geared towards the conservation and preservation of this amazing primate.

Program Outline         Location          Dates and Rates          Gallery

Program Outline         Location          Dates and Rates          Gallery

Program Outline

Founded in 1993, The Vervet Monkey Foundation are a South African NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) and one of the first animal organisations in South Africa to have developed a volunteer program to benefit from international volunteer visits! The Foundation was initiated by its committed founders with the purposes of providing sanctuary to non-releasable Vervets and rehabilitation back into the wild for individuals with the ability to survive be they orphaned, injured, abused, ex-laboratory or unwanted pets and has grown to such an extent that today, the sanctuary now look after in excess of 500 animals at any given time!

The work undertaken by volunteers here is invaluable to the sanctuary, massively beneficial and hugely appreciated by the staff and primates with whom you will find yourself working – this leads to a real family atmosphere in and around the program and one our volunteers can be proud to be a part of! All work carried out at the foundation by volunteers is integral to the successful day-to-day running of the centre and essential to the ongoing care of the animals. The Vervet Monkey Foundation have developed strict protocols that ensure maximum possible chance of release back into the wild for appropriate animals and thus volunteers can be guaranteed that volunteering here does indeed have substantial beneficial effects with regards to the ongoing conservation of this amazing intelligent and engaging primate species within South Africa.

Daily activities may include any of the following and more:

  • Cooking at weekends for volunteers.
  • 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 etc. Computer and graphic design skills are much valued and will always be hugely appreciated!
  • On a daily basis, volunteers will assist in preperation of the ‘main feed’ and feeding of all the monkeys in the sanctuary.
  • Collection of fruits and seeds from local indigenous trees to include in the Vervets diets.
  • Through the feeding process, ensuring that all residents receive an equal share – a challenging but often fun task!
  • Possibly the most important activity you will become involved in at the sanctuary.
  • Volunteers assist in observing all of the Vervets checking for injuries, sickness or signs of stress and reporting findings back to the experts – many eyes ensure that all of the animals are in the best health possible and any ailments can be dealt with in the fastest possible time, minimising any suffering endured by the monkeys.
  • Monitoring of the Vervets is a daily task and is undertaken on a 2 to 3 day shift rotation by volunteers to ensure continuity of observation.

Baby Season (November to February)*

During this time, volunteers may also have the privilege of working with the baby monkeys – nearly all of whom are orphaned and traumatised.

Under the Foundations strict rehabilitation protocols and to ensure maximum chance of successful release into the wild, volunteers will assist in introducing the babies to foster mothers and creche groups and assuring each baby is stabilised,
healthy and able to drink from a bottle when handled.
Rehabilitation of the babies will also involve handling them in the outdoor playpen, mixing bottles of milk, preparing foods and administering medicine when required. Feeding and monitoring is maintained throughout the day to ensure their progress is constantly monitored.

* Warning! The baby Vervets are like small children and will take great pleasure in urinating and defecating on you without any remorse whatsoever – as such old clothes are definitely recommended! Volunteers must also note that the Vervets are wild animals and a few ‘nips’ are to be expected while they play!

Juvenile Season (March to October)

During this time, volunteers may see and work with juniors being integrated into a troop within the rehabilitation program, again under strict protocols. Volunteers during this time may also see viable troops released into protected reserves – integrating them back into their natural environments and the wild – ultimately where these hugely intelligent primates belong.


Vervet Monkey Sabnctuary, Tzaneen

Located in South Africa’s Northern Province near the small town of Tzaneen around 400 kms North of Johannesburg, the Vervet Monkey Foundation enjoys an amazing location and a great year round temperate climate, right on the outskirts of the world famous Kruger National Park.

The list of natural attractions in the area is virtually endless providing some of the most dramatic scenery and photo opportunities to be found anywhere in the world – Blyde River Canyon and Debengeni Waterfalls are just a couple of examples, even visit the largest Baobab tree to be found anywhere and this is not to mention the never ending array of possibilities afforded to visitors at the nearby Kruger Park!

With a great year-round climate, great location and the hugely uplifting and rewarding volunteer experiences available to all at the Vervet Monkey Foundation – there really is no better program available anywhere for anyone interested in primate care and rehabilitation!

Rates and Dates



FROM R14, 000

The Vervet Monkey Foundation (VMF) Volunteer Program accepts new volunteers every Monday though all volunteers should aim to arrive to Johannesburg on the preceding Sunday for onward transport to Tzaneen and VMF on the Monday. VWI will happily arrange a complete package for you from your international flight arrival into South Africa inclusive of all accommodation and transfers prior to arrival at the project if required –let us know in your application and we will advise on appropriate accommodation for your visit and book transfers to and from the project as required!

What's Included:
  • All (vegan) meals and accommodation whilst on project
  • All on site activities
  • Support of dedicated on site coordinators and staff
  • Comprehensive pre and post departure support from our skilled team in Cape Town
Not Included:
  • International Flights and Visas
  • *Airport Transfers (overland transfers from Johannesburg to the VMF in Tzaneen and overnight accommodation in Johannesburg can be arranged as optional extras if required)
  • Gifts, additional entertainment and beverages (unless otherwise detailed)
  • Insurance (Fully comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of booking)
  • Monthly stipend

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As we make our way into the official Lock-Down period here in South Africa, our thoughts and best wishes go out to one and all for safe transition through these uncertain times.

Our core team at VWI head office continue to operate remotely to answer any questions or queries you may have – please visit our website for specific contact information:

Be assured that all of our volunteer programs, our very own Field Guide Training Program at Shamwari and the support we are able to offer to and create in South Africa as a result will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.

Owing to the current spread of Covid-19, we have taken the difficult but correct decision to suspend the May start date of our Field Guide Training Program at Shamwari – our next course will resume on August 3rd and we look forward to welcoming students back into the stunning South African bush at this time!

For now, keep safe, keep positive and believe that as a global community all of whom are affected by the spread of the Covid-19 virus, together we will come through stronger.

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