When humans and wildlife share the same area, problems are often bound to happen. Unfortunately it is often the wildlife that has to suffer the consequences. The vervet monkey becomes the 'problem' animal, while it doesn't understand that the mangos in the orchard were not meant for him.
In the past laws were put in place, giving people (anybody) the right to deal with any 'problem' animal, or 'vermin', as they saw fit, resulting in the exploitation and abuse of these animals, with disastrous results. Some of the animals classified as vermin were: vervet monkey, baboon, caracal, jackal and bushpig. Because of the exploitation and abuse of these listed and other wildlife species, the Monkey Rehabilitation Centre was founded and developed.
The project is mainly focussed on primates; vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, samango monkeys, and bushbabies. Volunteers must understand that it is impossible to guarantee that they will work with/handle any other animals besides monkeys whilst at the centre.
The project aims to release at least 2 troops of rehabilitated monkeys back to the wild per year, and there is quite a bit of organisation, research and monitoring involved in this (rehab and release of a troop of vervet monkeys can take up to 3 years!).
Volunteers must realise that there is a lot more to operating a rehabilitation centre than just feeding and cleaning and handling animals, here you are also involved in the maintenance and construction of the centre! As a volunteer you are part of their organisation. By working you will have a learning experience with all daily routines at a rehab centre. No specific skills are required to join this project.
With a specially designed program the project provides a temporary sanctuary for vervet monkeys and other wildlife casualties that have been taken out of the wild and kept in captivity or being used as pets. It is common knowledge that wild animal species do not make good household pets, especially the vervet monkey biting family members, friends and breaking nearly all ornaments and other valued household items. At this point they lose their cuteness and the owners must get rid of them, with very limited options. Either to be handed over to the authorities and other organisations to be killed or to be used in bio-medical research laboratories.
The casualties that result from this cruel law are anthropogenic in their cause and therefore, a need for wildlife rehabilitation centres was vitally important.
A rehabilitation centre such as this project plays an important role and helps to alleviate a great deal of this problem, by providing the much needed service to the abused animal wildlife, the communities, public and Government at large.
Although some laws have been changed, people's mindset often haven't. People continue to keep wildlife as pets, people continue to see wildlife as a problem, rather than trying to find an alternative where wildlife and humans can coexist.
Because of the projects' wildlife rehabilitation success rate, they identified the need to educate the human species which is the main cause of the depletion of nature and its inhabitants. Therefore their organisation does not only deal in the welfare of wildlife, it is committed to educate the public, especially the youth, underprivileged and disabled, in sustainable utilization of all natural resourcces.
The project has been involved in primate rehabilitation since 1995. Their main aim is to rehabilitate and release troops of vervet monkeys in natural areas, but they have been receiving many other animal and bird species as well. Any orphaned and/or injured animal gets treated at the centre, and when healed or strong enough, they release them back to their natural habitat. Other species that have been successfully rehabilitated and released are: various raptors (vulture, tawny eagle, owls), squirrels, bush babies, small antelope such as grey- or common duiker, black backed jackal...
The daily program:
As a guideline, the following time table will give volunteers an idea of what their day will look like.
07:00: Cleaning cages, preparing food and feeding of animals
10:00–13:00: Continue with feeding and cleaning if not complete, check for injuries or any discomfort with casualties in clinic and report to management. Work on projects as specified by project leaders. Monitor animals in enclosures and elsewhere
14:00–17:00: Afternoon programs vary from building new enclosures, planting and harvesting vegetables (for animals), checking animals in various stages of rehabilitation programs, collecting food, or sometimes having some time off to go on excursions or just personal time to do whatever volunteers want to do
19:30: Feeding of nocturnal animals, if any at the centre
But... anything can happen, and then the entire day’s planning changes!
Because the project does environmental education and they are involved with different community upliftment programmes, volunteers sometimes have the opportunity to get first hand experiences in both of these fields.
While at the centre the project leaders love to share some of the really worthwhile places in the area with you (they are not part of the programme however and thus are not included in the programme costs).
At the project: large and small dormitories. Couples can be accommodated separately. Sheets, duvets and pillows (bring your own towels) will be supplied, but we recommend you bring a sleeping bag with you for sleeping outside, and definitely bring one in winter (from may till september) as it gets really cold! There are toilets and shower facilities (hot and cold running water). A small kitchen/bar and a swimming pool. There is a communal area with a pool table.
Group size: 1 - 12 volunteers on average, but larger groups do occur.
Minimum stay: From 1 week to as long as you want. A stay of 4+ weeks is recommended, as it gives you time to be involved in all the aspects of running a rehab centre, and work with more animals.