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Positions Available

Primate Keeper Volunteers (Including hand-rearing)

Hiring Organization:
Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education

Date Posted:

Position Description:
Whilst the main bulk of the volunteering involves hand rearing the orphan baby baboons which arrive often in abundance at the centre there are also essential other aspects and additional experiences to ensure C.A.R.E. is achieving its broader goals of helping the communities and environment on a greater scale too.


Hand Rearing Orphan Baby Baboons

C.A.R.E. receives many orphan baby baboons which you will be helping to provide intimate and specialist care to. Your help is needed greatly to help hand rear the orphans, to provide them with all their physical and psychological needs. The hand rearing involves supervising the nursery enclosure and juvenile troops, preparing and giving out food and milk bottles and ensuring the babies get a stable and loving upbringing. Whilst in the nursery you will learn to act as the adult baboons would; becoming like a surrogate aunt or uncle. You will be taught how to ‘speak baboon’, spending time everyday playing with the little ones, communicating with them, offering them love and reassurance. Every morning and evening you will help to walk the babies from their sleeping area to the day time enclosure, where during the day they have volunteers accompanying them at all times. The babies will often bond with one volunteer in particular; it’s likely that you will be chosen by at least one orphan, who will want to walk with you every day, sleep on you and to spend their time with you. This is an experience never to be forgotten and volunteers return to C.A.R.E. over and over again.

Being a Primate Keeper for adult baboons

As a valuable volunteer you will be fully trained in all aspects of husbandry for caring for baboons through working closely with 12 unreleasable adult baboons, 11 of which were rescued from the Biomedical Research Industry. You will become proficient in captive animal care techniques at the centre; which includes hygiene, nutrition, making and giving enrichment, giving scatter feeds to encourage natural behaviours, enclosure maintenance and improvements and record keeping. You may be asked to help with the integrations and socialisation of individuals and assist with scientific data collection. This is invaluable experience for those looking to embark on a career as an animal keeper and looks good on a volunteers resume!


Enrichment is highly valuable husbandry tool to ensure the psychological wellbeing of animals whilst they are in captivity, especially primates. You will be given the opportunity to learn about enrichment, through designing making and giving different enrichment items and observing how the baboons react to your hard work!


Every baboon at the centre is monitored daily by the C.A.R.E. staff and you may often assist the staff to observe integrations, troop dynamics, troop health and any other area of interest. If you are interested in behavioural studies we can include this in the schedule, learning how to apply various behaviour collection techniques.


You will be given the opportunity to spend time with the Veterinary Team where you will learn about health and hygiene, you will assist with the daily veterinary tasks, and be trained to take faecal samples, analyse samples and identify parasites. You will be taught how to use the microscope and observe any surgeries which may occur during that time. This is very valuable experience to anyone looking to work with animals in a veterinary surgery, rescue centre or zoo.


Instead of experiencing the Bush just in a game drive vehicle as tourists do, we take volunteers on bush walks in the Big 5 nature reserve where the guide will explain interesting facts about the vegetation, point out animal tracks and give you an idea of what kind of things you have to watch out for in the environment. Walking in a Nature Reserve where there are wild animals is always a wonderful experience. Volunteers are given opportunities to learn about species identification of the South African wild flora and fauna in the reserve and these skills can be further tested on trips to the Kruger National Park. Additionally scheduled wild baboon observations help volunteers have a greater understanding of the species.


We urge volunteers to participate in morning bush walks and other educational experiences. Training will be provided and you will learn how to identify many different animals and how to interpret the tracks and signs around you.
The tracking activities will involve walks in the nature reserve, where there could be animal encounters. You will be focusing on finding tracks and identifying tracks. This knowledge alters the perception that many have of their surroundings in a lasting way, learning to read the bush.


Wildlife pond restoration

At the centre to encourage the breeding of amphibians and other water life we are installing wildlife ponds, we need data on the before and after installation to evaluate its success. This is part of C.A.R.E.’s effort to ensure the survival of all South African wildlife, and have a lasting, positive effect on the local environment.

Alien and Invasive Plant Removal

In the reserve there are many invasive and alien plants which often out-compete the native flora, effecting their survival and the survival of the dependable insects and animals. You will learn to identify the alien and invasive species and help to remove them which will allow for the native species to flourish. The amounts removed will be input into a database, to evaluate the success of the activities over time. This is an on-going project and your help will have a lasting impact, making a positive difference to the reserve.

Game counts, vegetation surveys and wild baboon observations

You will learn why it is important to count game and grasses and ways which the reserve and others control populations. Once you have acquired basic knowledge we will go out into the reserve and the volunteers will count individuals and herds or all animal species observed. Binoculars will be provided to aid the counts and information given to learn the differences between males and females, scoring their age and condition.
You will learn flora identification and using various data collection methods such as quadrat surveys, line transects and random sampling you will help to develop a database of the vegetation and map species within the reserve.
Through watching the wild baboons, following their activities and documenting the individuals you will help us keep important data on the habituated troop; keeping track of dispersal patterns, foraging activities and resting patterns. You will learn an incredible amount of information about
Both the game counts and the grass surveys are on-going projects, as it will take many years to get to an accurate figure. You will learn a lot about the plants in the area; their uses and what is edible to us and the baboons. Through assisting C.A.R.E. you will contribute towards a long-term study and leave a lasting, positive impact on the area.

Anti-poaching/snare searches and removal

You will be involved with anti-poaching and snare removal in the reserve and/or in the Kruger Park Bufferzone release site you will participate in anti-poaching whilst on bush walks, tracking excursions, drives and whilst participating in the environmental projects. C.A.R.E. volunteers have succeeded in removing hundreds of snares, and thus saving hundreds of animal lives.

None required, full training is given and a certificate upon your completion is awarded.

Volunteers are required to pay a minimum donation to cover their resource use (food, hot showers, electricity etc) and a donation which goes directly to the baboons.
Please enquire for more information.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Volunteers help pay towards their food, accomodation and a donation to the centre.


The closest town to the centre is PHALABORWA - nearly 500kms from Johannesburg. Flights and buses are available from Johannesburg to Phalaborwa, and arrangements will be made to collect incoming volunteers from Phalaborwa (either airport or bus depot).
By Plane – Johannesburg to Phalaborwa
Flights leave from the domestic terminal at Johannesburg International Airport. The flight is ± 1hour, 15 minutes. These flights are conducted by SA Express (
By Bus - Johannesburg to Phalaborwa
Buses leave from the Johannesburg Park Station or the Midrand Bus Station ± 25kms from the Johannesburg International Airport. To get to either station, you will need to organize transport with your hotel/backpackers or catch a taxi.
Translux buses depart Jo'Burg early every day at Midrand and Pretoria, arriving into Phalaborwa late afternoon. The Midrand bus is recommended for volunteers arriving on early morning flights as it provides as extra grace period.
For bus reservations, contact Veena at - email her with your name, dates of travel and where you will be traveling to/from. You can also reserve online at Volunteers need to arrive at the bus station at least 30 minutes before departure to pay for your bus ticket or the ticket will be forfeited. Try to book your bus ticket at least a month in advance as they definitely fill up!
The Phalaborwa area borders a malarial zone and it is incumbent upon each person to take medical opinion on vaccinations and whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic program. There are no formal vaccinations requirements for entering South Africa.

Term of Appointment:
Ongoing, looking for volunteers who will stay for 3 months ideally.

Situated on the banks of the Oliphant’s River, in the middle of a stunning 3000 hectare ‘Big 5’ South African Nature Reserve, the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E.) is the perfect location for a wild animal rehabilitation centre. C.A.R.E. greatly needs volunteers to help hand-raise baby baboon orphans, to assist with the rehabilitation of baboons which spent up to 13 years of their life in a lab-cage and to help animals which have been rescued from all sorts of circumstances. To be part of the animals healing; bonding with the baboons in a way that is incomprehensible to most, watching them grow in confidence, and to witness them becoming wild, sociable animals again, is an experience with unparalleled rewards; that any volunteer will never forget.
Although C.A.R.E. will treat any animal in immediate need, C.A.R.E. specialises in the rehabilitation of the charismatic chacma baboon, and has pioneered in the success of releasing troops of hand-raised orphans back into the wild on a number of occasions. As C.A.R.E. is situated in a wild animal nature reserve, C.A.R.E. is a truly unique and special place. The baboons undergoing rehabilitation at the centre really do get the best start for a life back in the wild, learning about the wild animals around them and how to live as part of a well bonded family again. With 260 recorded species of birds inhabiting the reserve, often magnificent birds of prey fly above, causing the orphan babies to soon learn to duck out of sight or into the arms of the volunteers who act as the Baboon Care Givers. It’s always exciting for the staff and volunteers when the baboons make their unique warning calls, which echo throughout the centre, as then it is known that a crocodile, elephant or hippo has been spotted in the nearby river – a chance for everyone to grab their cameras to find out what wild creature they have spotted!
C.A.R.E. is a busy place, filled with energy and dynamic, and the credit can only be attributed to the charming and curious chacma baboons that inhabit the centre. With the wild baboon troop roaming around there is never a dull moment at C.A.R.E. and their presence is considered an essential element of the rehabilitation of those in the enclosures. For the baboons undergoing rehabilitation to be able to watch, listen and learn from the wild baboons the rehabilitation at C.A.R.E. is truly extraordinary, additionally it provides a fantastic opportunity for any volunteers and researchers interested in nature and social behaviour to observe the performances of real wild baboons.
C.A.R.E. was established in 1989 by the indomitable Rita Miljo and was the first rehabilitation centre to develop release methods to successfully release the baboons back into the wild. These achievements have been documented in TV shows, documentary’s, books and in stunning photography. It is believed that the success of the releases is multifaceted; the release process is slow, gentle and well planned. The release team spend 4-6 months in the wild with the baboons; teaching them the area which becomes their new home. Vital to a successful release is the rehabilitation process, and in order to achieve this C.A.R.E. relies on volunteers all over the globe coming to the centre to help hand-raise and rehabilitate the baboons which C.A.R.E. rescues.
Baboons often arrive at C.A.R.E. completely traumatised and the staff and volunteers help to gently integrate them into a new social group and watch their confidence grow again. Baboons are primates, and in the wild they are part of close-knit family units referred to as a troop. A baby baboon will usually be born into a shielding family and have a protective father, devoted mother and several caring siblings and aunts who all fuss over the baby and keep it safe. Throughout Africa and the world the wildlife habitats are being destroyed and South Africa’s wildlife areas are becoming increasingly fragmented; turning the baboons’ homes and foraging grounds into farms, towns and other human areas. This leads to hungry baboons venturing onto unfriendly territories and often getting shot. Often people just shoot them for ‘sport’, others are the victim of the illegal pet trade, powerlines, road accidents and the vivisection industry.

Contact Information:
South Africa

Telephone Number:

http://See this is an old website to be updated asap

E-mail Address:

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