Primate Sanctuary Assistant

founded in 1989
Vervet Monkey Foundation
Ask A Question
Coordinator | Dave
Coordinator | Dave
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Get to know certain primates and there social life
Be part of the team making a diffrence to the lives of these wonderful animals
meet other amazing volunteers from all over the world, make life long friends
take your passion for primates and enhance there lives
enjoy excursions to the Kruger National park and see the many animals of Africa firat hand
Experience living in the African bush and help rehabilitating the indigenous vervet monkey. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the project

The Vervet Monkey Foundation operates the largest centre for vervets in the world. In 2006 we became a member of PASA (Pan African Sanctuaries Alliance) and we are also a GFAS (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries) certified sanctuary. We currently care for over 500 monkeys and we take in many orphans each year. We also have some ex-pets here that you may get a chance to spend some time with. In addition you will help the monkeys further by general husbandry, feeding, building new enclosures, observations and maintaining the upkeep of the foundation. Longer term volunteers may become involved with integrations of monkeys into social groups which is very rewarding and a lot can be learned about their behaviour. You will get the opportunity to make new friends and form long-term relationships with like-minded people while you get involved in the everyday tasks of running a monkey sanctuary. 

You may be involved with hand-rearing during baby season, teaching them to drink and get ready for their introduction to monkey moms, you may be lucky enough to see juniors venture out into their new enclosures, watching them become real monkeys. We have some ex-pets here that often need some time spent grooming from outside the cages before they are ready to be integrated into troops. In addition you will help the monkeys further by building new enclosures and maintaining the upkeep of the foundation.

Traveling to the project site

You will need to fly into Johannesburg (Oliver Tambo) airport and take a Translux coach to Tzaneen. Translux coach tickets cost approximately R255.00 each way. The bus usually leaves Johannesburg at 9.30am, Midrand at 10am and Pretoria at 10.30am. If your flight gets in before 8am and you are able to get the bus the same day as your flight then we advise you to take the Gautrain from the airport (approx R125) to Pretoria bus station. The coach arrives in Tzaneen around 3.40pm. We will pick you up upon arrival in the car park where the bus drops you in Tzaneen and transport you to the Foundation. Please note it is essential to book your bus ticket in advance (min 3 weeks) as there may not be any seats left on the day. I If your arrival in Johannesburg is too late to be able to connect with the bus departure, we suggest that you stay at Pretoria for the night. You may phone one of the guest houses below to arrange to pick you up at the airport and drop you the next morning at the Translux bus station. 

On Arrival to the VMF

On arrival all volunteers will have to sign an indemnity form indicating that you accept and understand that you are working with wild animals and that your presence and all activities you undertake at the centre are done so at your own risk. Volunteers will be expected to be on call at all times, including weekends. You should be prepared for often challenging and hard work, based around a shift rota with other volunteers. A typical work day is 8 hours per day depending on the time of year.. You will be presented with a day off each week that you may use to travel to the local town of Tzaneen to purchase supplies or to relax. Volunteering can be an altogether rewarding experience, working together with like minded individuals. You will be able to see at first hand how your actions are benefiting the vervet monkey and the people striving to protect this indigenous primate of Africa.


A number of volunteers now work at the Foundation after deciding to stay on to further support the monkeys in our care. As long-term volunteers, they help by co-ordinating daily tasks and are at hand to offer assistance and experience to new volunteers.

You will not need any prior experience as we will teach you everything you need to know – just come with enthusiasm and an interest in conservation! If you have any specific skills or interest we are happy to try and utilize them during your stay. No matter what you do, you can expect that it is hot, dirty and hands on!

Hands On Experience

During the baby season (Nov – Feb) there is a possibility volunteers will work with baby monkeys, nearly all orphaned and traumatised. We introduce them to foster mothers ensuring each baby is stabilised, healthy and able to drink from a bottle when handling them. During the juvenile season (Mar – Oct), you may be able to see juniors being integrated into a troop within our rehabilitation programme or participate in other integrations. Baby rehabilitation involves volunteers handling or observing the babies in their outdoor playpen, mixing up bottles of milk, preparing foods and administering medicine if required. You will feed and monitor them throughout the day, constantly checking their progress. Be aware these babies will defecate and urinate on you quite happily - this is unavoidable so old clothes are recommended. You must remember the vervet monkeys are wild animals so expect a few ‘nips’ whilst they play! You will be helping to rehabilitate vervet monkeys into viable troops for release into protected reserves, integrating them back into their natural environment.

Touring and days off

Volunteers get one day off per week; we provide a lift into Tzaneen to purchase supplies, swim in the nearby lodge pool, spa or relax over a cappuccino in the mall. Volunteers her for 4 weeks are also invited to take one touring day per week to visit local sights. Volunteers often tour with new friends met at the VMF. You may wish to hire a car with some friends you meet here. Popular tours include the world famous Kruger National Park, only 1 hour from here. Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window, stunning waterfalls and of course, wildlife viewing.

Typical day

Typical everyday tasks can include:
  • Collecting, chopping and delivering food for monkeys.
  • Cooking at weekends for volunteers
  • Hands-on care-giving of baby monkeys (baby season only), helping in our sickbay
  • Monitoring and report writing of monkeys around the Sanctuary
  • 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, we can also use graphic design skills

Each “Main Feed” involves the daily preparation and distribution of food to all of the monkeys in the sanctuary. As a volunteer, your duty would be to prepare the food bowls. You will cut, wash and share out the fruit and vegetables equally before distributing the food bowls to the vervets. Seed pods and fruits are also picked from our indigenous trees on a regular basis. 

Monitoring is a crucial and important job as you will monitor and observe each monkey within the sanctuary, checking for any injuries, stress or sickness - reporting information back to “base” to ensure the vervets are in the best of health. This task is done daily; you will usually have a 2-day to 3-day shift rotation whilst monitoring to provide continuity of observation. 

Free-time activities

There are also plenty of opportunities to visit local attractions such as the Kruger National Park or to go on adventures with other volunteers to local sites and site seeing expeditions.



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 (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 07:30 - 16:30

What's Included

Services by Vervet Monkey Foundation

Your fees go toward food, accomodation and much needed financial support
for the monkeys and the Sanctuary.


Volunteer Village life involves sharing a wooden cabin with twin beds with one other person. Alternatively, we have an individual private cabin with double bed for an extra fee. We have a natural, electricity-free environment at the Volunteer Village, though, you may take your electronics for recharging up to the cottage on occasions. You may wish to bring a small camping lantern for your cabin and definitely a head torch / torch. We provide mattress, table, pillow and sheets but please ensure you bring a sleeping bag.
This is home sweet home; the potential creature sightings are colorful lizards, snakes and birds. The village houses 4 showers, 2 eco-toilets, and a campfire; which is great for an evening under the stars or a braai (South African BBQ)!
The shower is on the whole able to provide hot water, but be aware cold showers are a possibility (refreshing on a blazing hot day)! Water in the area is scarce. The eco-toilet is a bush toilet with worms that do the composting. You don’t have to flush here!
We have recently added the addition of two private cabins outside of the village suitable for a couple or those who prefer a little privacy - please enquire within for fee.

Bedroom (Double) Bungalow
Food & Beverages

All meals are animal friendly (vegan), breakfast is all help yourself from various cereals , toast, coffee and tea. Lunches and Dinners are prepared during the week with volunteers helping on weekends - tea and coffee are provided.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
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 South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

We prefer volunteers to arrive on a Sunday or Monday, an orientation is give on day of arrival so you know where everything is.

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)
5 weeks
6 weeks
7 weeks
8 weeks
9 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$307 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Vervet Monkey Foundation 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 Vervet Monkey Foundation during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Vervet Monkey Foundation cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Vervet Monkey Foundation.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Primate Sanctuary Assistant

Experience living in the African bush and help rehabilitating the indigenous vervet monkey.


You might be also interested in

Local Animal Rescue Center Escazu, Costa Rica Volunteer Now Costa Rica
As part of our local animal shelter, you'll be responsible for a variety of activities such as feeding, maintenance and engaging with animals!
Sea Turtle Conservation Ambassador Quepos, Costa Rica Tortugas de Pacuare
Volunteer and save turtles, make a difference and meet one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Join us in Pacific CR!
Conservation of Whale & Dolphin Populations Tenerife, Spain GVI
Contribute to critical whale & dolphin conservation initiatives in the beautiful subtropical island archipelago - Canary Islands.
Migrants and Refugees Integration Support Napoli, Italy International Napoli Network
Help the refugee and migrant community to gain a foothold in Europe by supporting shelters, schools, health care and activities tailored to their long-term integration.
Primate Sanctuary experience Letsitele, South Africa Vervet Monkey Foundation
Gain first hand knowledge rehabilitating indigenous vervet monkeys back into a natural environment, be part of a team making a diffrence

Why am I seeing this?

You requested a page that doesn't exist on this site any more. This could be caused by a link you followed that was out of date, by a typing in the wrong address in the address bar, or simply because the post has been deleted.

Take Me Home