Primate Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Primate Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer Project South Africa

This is a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre founded in 2010 and based at the foot of the stunning Hlumu Hlumu Mountains in the Mpumalanga region of South Africa. They are the only primate rehabilitation in the province, and as such the work focuses mainly on vervet monkeys. The majority of these monkeys come in as tiny babies after their mothers have been shot, poisoned or hit by cars or killed so that people can raise the baby as a pet. Other wildlife that needs to be rescued is also taken in and to date have successfully worked with mongoose, many antelope and bird species, warthog, bushpigs, bushbabies, small predators and reptiles.

This project is a non profit organisation and, with no government support, relies solely on the donations from volunteers to continue its vital work. Without volunteers, they would not exist and the many animals we take in each year would not have a future.

  • Rescue: Take in injured, orphaned and displaced wildlife with the aim of rehabilitation and release back into protected areas of the wild. Also take in any unwanted exotic pets and give them a home in the most natural conditions possible.
  • Rehabilitation: Each species requires a different approach to rehabilitation and you will be involved in many different processes including troop bonding for social animals and re-wildling for solitary animals.
  • Release: The final aim is always to release any animal back into the wild wherever possible. This involves finding a suitable site, ensuring the animal is in the best condition to survive and securing the necessary paperwork.
  • Education:Only through education can we change the mindset of the public with regards to wildlife.
  • Age: min.18 - max. 70
  • Location: Badplaas, Mpumalanga region
  • Requirements: You need to be physically fit and at least 18 years old. Furthermore, you don’t mind to get your hands dirty.
  • Group size: max 15 participants
  • Project duration: 1 week - 12 weeks
  • Laundry: Laundry can be done on Fridays at a cost of R20 per bag/load
  • WIFI: There is no WIFI but there is good 3G signal. You will be provided with a prepaid local sim card on arrival which you can top up with data to keep in touch with home
  • Linen/towels: Linen and towels are provided.
These projects takes place at Badplaas, Mpumalanga, about 5 hours from Johannesburg.

You need to be physically fit and at least 18 years old. Furthermore, you don’t mind to get your hands dirty.

There will be a volunteer guide / leader in charge to ensure that the program run smoothly, to give advice and provide leadership.

Accommodation & meals
The centre is based at Hlumu Lodge which operates as a Guest Lodge for overnight visitors. As part of your volunteer donation you will be accommodated in one of the chalets at the lodge. These chalets have hot and cold running water and flushing toilets. The facilities at the lodge include a restaurant, bar with pool table and dart board and swimming pools. You are welcome to make use of these facilities. Please remember you are representing the project when using these areas and ensure you act in a professional manner at all times.

Volunteers stay in shared accommodation in our wooden chalets. There are a maximum of 3 people to a room with a shared bathroom. Bed linen and towels are provided and 1 of the housekeeping staff will clean the chalet twice a week.

There is no WIFI but there is good 3G signal. You will be provided with a prepaid local sim card on arrival which you can top up with data to keep in touch with home.

3 meals a day will be provided by the project and prepared by the volunteers. The food is basic but tasty and filling. If you have any specific dietary requirements, kindly indicate this on the application form. The tap water is from a bore hole and is safe to drink.

Daily meals will generally consist of the following:
  • Breakfast: Eaten after morning feeding around 8.30am. A selection of cereal and muesli, toast with jam, fruit, tea and coffee.
  • Lunch: Eaten between 12-1pm. Basic lunches such as sandwiches, pasta, salads, pies, omelette.
  • Dinner: Provide ingredients for bulky filling meals such as pastas, stews, bolognaise, stir frys, rice dishes etc.
From a part of your volunteer donation, food supplies are each week bought for the meals. A budget is given per person and the volunteer coordinator shops in bulk accordingly. You are then responsible for preparing your own meal as a group.

Please note, your donation was to help care for the animals you are coming to help and therefore the food provided is basic essentials. If you have a huge appetite or prefer certain specialised tastes to supplement the shopping with your own food items. i.e. steak and prawns cannot be provided.

Occasionally an evening out will be organised (at your own cost) to go for dinner at the local restaurant in town. This is dependent on the number of volunteers at the centre and if there is a car available for the trip.

Despite the progress, the lack of vital funds and government support mean that the day to day funding of such a project is a real struggle. Volunteers are the back bone of the project and without both the donations from the volunteers and the work the volunteers put in on the ground, it is not possible to help these animals.

You are essential for the success of this project and are required for every aspect of the day to day running of the project. There is no typical day and although many of the jobs are a daily necessity such as feeding and cleaning, there is always a new experience or job that needs doing.

You will get involved and have fun while learning new skills, meeting new people and experiencing a new way of life all while making a huge difference to wildlife conservation. You will be treated as a professional member of the team and it is important that you use your initiative and listen and learn. By all working together as a team big things can be achieved for the animals in their care. Please make sure that you complete any tasks to the best of your ability to ensue the smooth running of the centre as a whole.

The working hours are normally 7am - 5pm but this is dependent on animal emergencies. Please remember the animals come first and plans for volunteers (such as days off or meal times) may be delayed if an emergency occurs.

Please remember that this is a serious conservation project and the hours may be long and demanding.

Examples of some of the jobs you may be involved in:
  • Daily feeding routines and sorting of new food deliveries
  • Hand raising and bottle feeding of orphans
  • Working in the baby monkey nursery (Nov-May) to supervise and ensure they are playing, sleeping, feeding etc.
  • Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!! We need to ensure all the enclosures and work areas are kept clean to avoid any infections.
  • Helping to administer medicines
  • Construction projects - helping to build enclosures, fixing fences, taking down old fences, painting, fixing, maintenance, laying pipes etc.
  • Taking part in animal rescues or releases
  • Land maintenance such as alien tree removal or burning fie breaks
  • Enrichment projects
Rest Assured: By making your volunteer donation you have already made a huge difference. The volunteer program funds the majority of the day to day expenses of the project. Feeding and caring for up to 100 animals is a costly exercise.

As a volunteer you are an essential team member and part of the work force. Unlike many projects they rely heavily on the volunteers and the work you carry out on site is vital for the day to day running of the centre.

Baby Monkey Season is a busy time here at the project and is a very hands on time of year. These babies come in as helpless, traumatised individuals and it is up to us to provide them with hands on nurturing in the form of physical and emotional development. The babies are supervised by volunteers all day in the nursery and will sometime have to sleep with them at night.

The experience here isn’t all about cuddling baby animals. There will be incredible life changing experiences when you get to work hands on with the animals at the centre. However there is also hard work to be done such as sorting fruit and cleaning cages and these are all essential jobs to keep the centre running.

Many of the animals have a long rehabilitation period and can only be released when they are adults. Its important that we still give these adults proper care and enrichment even when they aren’t ‘cute’ babies anymore. You will be involved in all stages of the rehabilitation journey.

The rehabilitation process for primates is very long and at any one time there might be 3 troops going through the stages to be released. Although there is no hands on contact with these primates they still need care such as feeding, deworming and enrichment. Grasses and seeds are daily collected for these troops and also make enrichment toys for them.

The centre isn’t just about working hands on with the animals. They try to tailor the work to each individual physical abilities . If there are certain jobs you would prefer to do or have a certain interest in you need to inform the project:

Extra Jobs
  • Cleaning, sorting and feeding the mealworms
  • The weekly food shop
  • Food collection
  • Sorting food donations
  • Gardening - we have a vegetable garden we are trying to get going to help us become more self sufficient.
  • Helping with fundraising ideas
  • Helping in the office
  • Helping with educational tours
  • General site clean ups

They do get the occasional baby (usually not monkeys) during the winter (May to September) but the intakes are usually older monkeys who have been kept as pets for a few months and people are now bored of them or injured animals/those not coping with winter.

Average day
Although there is never an average day here there are certain daily tasks that must be done every day.
  • 7am - Morning Feeding Routines for all animals at the centre. Bottles for any of the infant animals. Baby shifts in the nursery start (in baby season).
  • 8/9am - Volunteer breakfast
  • 9am - 12pm - Cleaning of sleep cages and of enclosures, changing of blankets in night cages. Projects such as food sorting after a food collection, enrichment, maintenance etc.
  • 11.30am - Seeds for the rehab monkey troops
  • 12pm-1pm - Lunch
  • 1pm - 3pm - Continuation of projects
  • 3pm - Afternoon feeding
  • 6pm - All animals to bed for the night, evening bottles etc.
  • 7pm - Dinner
Depending on which animals are at the centre at the time there will be different bottles to be fed during the day at different intervals In baby season there will be nursery shifts and there may be different medication to give to different animals at different points during the day.
Volunteers are picked up every Monday (until 4pm) from the closest city which is Nelspruit. You will have a chance to do any last minute shopping in the city before we drive the 1.5 hours through the mountains to Badplaas.


Duration Fee
2 weeks 650 EUR
4 weeks 975 EUR
8 weeks 1650 EUR

Rates includes
  • Accommodation in shared rooms
  • 3 Meals a day
  • 1 transfer to and from Nelspruit
  • Room cleaning twice a week
  • A local sim card
  • A 24/7 dedicated volunteer coordinator
  • Full training in all aspects of work
  • Assistance from Intern Africa with visa, flights, travel insurance, vaccinations and all other preparations
Rates excludes
  • Flights and travel to Nelspruit
  • Visa fees (if required)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Weekend activities and trips, beverages
Click here to sign up.