Primate Bush Academy

founded in 2011
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Coordinator | Tracy
Coordinator | Tracy
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Enjoy up close and personal time with Primates
You’ll meet great people and we know you’ll have lots of fun, but the animals come first.
Bottle feed baby wallabies and wombats
Africa will provide an experience you will never forget
Make lifelong friendships
Taking a scientific approach to the domain of conservation management, this Wildlife Reserve is at the heart of primate and wildlife conservation This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Africa’s southeast jewel of Malawi is a corner of the world rich with history, beauty and character. While the population continues to face significant challenges socially and economically, the tropical environment is awash with a melting pot of species from bats to monkeys, hippos, elephants as well as lake fish fauna that is renowned globally. 

The Project

Volunteers will spend 2 weeks at Ocean 2 Earth Volunteer’s wildlife centre caring for rescued animals, then 2 – 10 weeks on the monkey research project.

Taking a scientific approach to the domain of conservation management, this Wildlife Reserve is home to Ocean 2 Earth Volunteer’s Primate Bush Academy, at the heart of primate conservation. Originally established in 2013 in the National Park, our team tracks the progress of rescued yellow baboons and vervet monkeys through a comprehensive census – the first and only of its kind anywhere in the world. By applying your skills and acumen to this venture, you will be making a tangible contribution to these endangered species as you enjoy the experience of a lifetime. The project is proudly partnered with the Department of National Parks & Wildlife.

The wildlife centre operates a strict hands-off policy as our goal is to release as many animals as possible back into the wild. It is highly important not to humanise the animals as this puts them at greater risk of being poached after release. That said, some orphans need special attention and round the clock care to ensure that they have the best possible chance of survival and rehabilitation, so you may well be stepping in with surrogacy work and providing all aspects of care in those early days. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience to see animals progress and know that you have played a vital part in their journey back to the wild.

The Location

The Centre is based in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, a 30-minute drive from the Kenyatta International, the main airport. 

The Wildlife Reserve is located approximately 7 hours and 45 minutes drive north of our base at the Wildlife Centre. It is also a 1 hour and 15-minute journey southwest to our sister research site at the Nyika National Park.

The Wildlife Reserve is a national game reserve centred in Malawi’s Northern District. Dominated by a combination of miombo woodland, wetland marshes and mopane woodland, this 1,000km2 land mass is home to a variety of natural species from the reptile, carnivore, ungulate and primate families respectively. The reserve happens o share the western border with neighbouring Zambia, a location that happens to see many types of birdlife elephants and hippos occupy this region.

Our Volunteers

There are 4 key domains in which volunteers contribute: 

  • Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
  • Education and Community Outreach
  • Communications and Campaigns
  • Research
The site, in particular, focuses on the domain of research. Volunteers will obtain an up close and personal view of the yellow baboons and vervet monkeys both before and after reintroduction into the wild. Following on from the Primate Reintroduction Program, your endeavours will help Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers gauge the success of those species rescued and rehabilitated from the Wildlife Centre, informing practices and guidelines regarding future captures. 

Conditions Onsite

The project helps to form part of the Malawi-Zambia Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA), a key international migratory habitat connecting both countries across a landmass of 30,621km2. Without boots on the ground, researchers lose vital data to monitor gene flow patterns that can have an incredibly detrimental long-term effect.

The conservation team at the Wildlife Reserve will provide volunteers with all of the necessary training to undertake their individual research activities on site. The initial orientation and training phase is designed to bring visitors up to speed on the codes of practice that must be adhered to. Any further feedback or questions can be directed to staff.

While the luxurious and exotic surrounds of Africa will provide an experience you will never forget, there are some obvious challenges that some volunteers will encounter. Removed from a comfortable first world environment, volunteers can be confronted by the state of some of the animals in the park given their circumstances. Those that arrive in the warmer months will also be exposed to a hot and unforgiving climate, making it imperative to come prepared.

Please Note

The second instalment of your project fees is due within 1 week after you paid the deposit on Volunteer World. This is a total of $495 AUD and comes off your balance. The balance is due 90 days prior to travel. For all further information about the fees, please scroll down to the section "Program Fees“.

Typical day

No two days in the Northern District will be exactly alike. Whether you arrive as a volunteer or a student, you will embark on any number of the following activities:

  • Population census surveys using standardised foot transects
  • Individual identification (based on age and sex classes)
  • Behavioural observations (seasonal)
  • Radio telemetry and GPS use (seasonal)
  • Habitat assessments using vegetation surveys
  • Behavioural observations (feeding, group composition etc)
  • Learning about the surrounding plant and animal ecology
  • Gaining field experience with an expert team Data entry and GIS (using QGIS)

Free-time activities

Malawi is known as the Warm Heart of Africa for its friendly people and stunning landscapes, and it’s generally viewed as the ‘safest’ country to travel in Africa. Volunteers take one day off a week and a long weekend off every month. It is possible to take off more or less time, dependent on emergencies and what projects you are working on. We highly recommend that you spend weekends off at the lake or on safari. We can help you with your booking and show you the best deals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Zambia: Safari to South Luangwa valley
  • Senga Bay: Boat trip, snorkelling, swimming.
  • Liwonde National park: Game drives and boat trips
  • Cape Maclear: Boat trips, paddle-boarding, canoes, booze cruise, hiking
  • Kande: Horse riding
  • Dezda: Pottery, paper workshop, hiking, cave paintings
  • Kuti Wildlife Reserve: Wildlife viewing, cycling

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Required Documents
Proof of travel Insurance docs and Proof of vaccinations
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Enthusiasm for the project and a love for the animals
Great work ethic.
Willingness to learn.
Ability to work within a team environment.
Ability to work in a remote area.
Capacity to translate newly acquired skills across to others.
Previous conservation experience is helpful but not necessary
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 08:00 - 05:00

What's Included

Services by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers

What's included in this project?

  • Return airport transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Local SIM card
  • All meals, tea/coffee and bottled water
  • T-Shirt
  • Orientation and training
  • WIFI
  • Volunteer Coordinator

What’s not included in this project?

  • Flights
  • Visa ($75 single entry 30-day visa with $10 extension fee for every additional 30 days)
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Vaccinations
  • Personal expenses


Airport Pickup at Lilongwe International Airport

Volunteers will be picked up at the airport.


Have you ever woken up to the sound of a lion roaring or monkeys playing out of your bedroom window? With this volunteer accommodation you can! For the first 2 weeks of the project volunteers stay together at the Volunteer House, which is in the heart of the wildlife centre and surrounded by animals. This allows you to be close to the action and gives you a chance to experience the wild side of Africa. 

The house has mixed dorm-style accommodation with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hot showers. There is a generous and attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off. All meals are served by the local cook who provides international meals along with some local Malawian dishes that he is more than happy to show you how to make. Vegans and people with allergies are catered for and every week on a Saturday night, the centre has a Brai for the weekly Saturday night BBQ. If you prefer to eat out there are many good restaurants just a short drive away and the wildlife centre public restaurant serves fantastic lunches!

During the primate research, volunteers will stay at A long-term research camp located on the edge of Lake Kazuni, close to the main gate of the park. Volunteers and students will stay within the research camp in large shared tents. The ablutions block in the camp comes complete with a dining and lounge area with a kitchen. Water is provided daily from a borehole tap situated across the road as well as a long-drop toiler and bucket showers.

Visitors have access to a teaching space, office, storage space and lab for education and research purposes.

Food & Beverages

Breakfast supplies are available to all volunteers. Meals are cooked by our local chef each day except on Sunday when extra food is given to our dedicated volunteers. The vegetarian menu catered by chef Joseph is a mix of local and international cuisine, but we are flexible enough to cater to most dietary requirements. Visitors are welcome to bring their own meats or other luxuries if they wish.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe. We assist you to find cheap flights to Malawi.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Malawi provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Malawi you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malawi.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The project is available all year round starting every Tuesday subject to availability. 

To get there, the Centre is based in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, a 30-minute drive from the Kenyatta International, the main airport. 

The Wildlife Reserve is located approximately 7 hours and 45 minutes drive north of our base at the Wildlife Centre. It is also a 1 hour and 15 minute journey southwest to our sister research site at the Nyika National Park.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
6 weeks
7 weeks
8 weeks
9 weeks
10 weeks
11 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$850 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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We refund your fees if Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers cancels your trip
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All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers.

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Primate Bush Academy

Taking a scientific approach to the domain of conservation management, this Wildlife Reserve is at the heart of primate and wildlife conservation


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