Protecting baboons in South Africa

  • South Africa
  • Baboons
  • Over 18s, 16s accompanied by an adult.
  • Language: English (intermediate)
  • All year round 2 weeks minimum
  • From €900

Get involved in a protection center for chacma baboons in South Africa and help rehabilitate them. All missions with primates here.

The center is home to 450 baboons

The project you'll be working on is located on a 1,200-hectare plot of land in a 40,000-hectare game reserve that's home to the Big Five. There are 4 types of primate in South Africa: the vervet monkey, the galago, the samango and the chacma baboon. The Baboon Rehabilitation Center currently houses over 450 individuals. Most were brought here as orphans. Before arriving, they were often used as pets. Sometimes, their mothers were killed because of the damage baboons can cause to farms and crops. Only a few of them arrived at the center as adults.

Baby monkeys cared for for 3 months

Baboons who arrive as babies are cared for by volunteers until they are 3 months old. The bond with the mother is vital for baby baboons. When they arrive at the center, this bond must not be severed. From the age of three months, they are introduced to a surrogate mother baboon before joining a larger troop, step by step. To date, the center has succeeded in recreating 28 baboon troops, making a total of 450 individuals.

15 troops of baboons rehabilitated in 30 years

Rehabilitation is a very long process. Each individual arrives separately and, as baboon troops have a highly structured hierarchical system, socialization in these primates is paramount. So, in order to achieve successful rehabilitation, it's important not to cut corners. In 30 years, the center has rehabilitated 15 troops of baboons, representing some 350 individuals. 99% of the center's animals are chacma baboons. However, other small animals are also rehabilitated, such as small mammals, birds and even domestic pets (dogs, rabbits, cats, guinea pigs).

The role of volunteers at the baboon center

Some activities are daily, such as preparing meals for the animals. Others depend on the center's current needs. The tasks entrusted to you are very varied. You won't always be in contact with baboons.

Here are a few examples of project activities

  • Nursery with babies (up to 3 months) 
  • Meal preparation and distribution 
  • Cleaning of pens and nursery 
  • Fitting out / repairing enclosures 
  • Implementation of "enrichements", which are tricks that allow monkeys to develop their instincts to search for food. 
  • Observation and data collection on their behavior and interaction 
  • Supervision of the introduction of babies with their surrogate mothers 
  • Collecting branches, grass, seeds and other natural baboon foods 
  • Removal of non-native plants harmful to the reserve 
  • Helping to educate the local population (especially children) about baboon protection 

The minimum duration of participation in this project is 2 weeks and the maximum is 12 weeks. Arrival possible on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month (except in exceptional circumstances), in the town of Hoedspruit.

  • All year round
  • 2 weeks: €900
  • 3 weeks: €1,120
  • 4 weeks: €1,360
  • 6 weeks: € 1950
  •  8 weeks: € 2370
  • 12 weeks: €3,140

Included in the price

  • Return transfer from Hoedspruit town 
  • Accommodation & linen
  • Three meals a day (mainly vegan)
  • The laundry 
  • One day a week in the nearest town 
  • Technical support 

Not included in the price

  • International flight and transfer from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit
  • Additional drinks and personal expenses 
  • Assistance - repatriation - medical expenses - cancellation - baggage insurance 
  • Internet access (wifi available at extra cost)

Conditions of participation

  • No specific experience is required to take part, apart from genuine motivation for the project's DNA.
  • Minimum age 18, or 16 and over if accompanied by an adult
  • Language: English 

Accommodation and food

  • The volunteer camp is located within the project.
  • It's a permanent camp with 6 rooms, each accommodating 2 to 4 people, depending on the season.
  • There's a communal building for toilets and showers, and a small kitchen for preparing coffee or basic meals (the 3 vegan meals a day are taken on the center's patio).
  • The volunteer camp also has a common room for relaxation, with games, TV, DVD player, etc., for unwinding after a day's work.
  • This project is mostly vegan.

A project which has been running for over 30 years, which has already proved its worth, and which will enable you to play a key role in the process of rehabilitating baboons in their natural environment...

Volonterre africa logo

About the partner agency

VolonTerre Africa was created by Nathalie, a Frenchwoman who set up her agency in 2015, after several years' volunteering experience with an association in South Africa. She offers several eco-volunteering missions for the preservation of endangered species, as well as support for rural communities. Our partner agency specializes in missions in South Africa.