Primate Conservation, Zimbabwe


Gain hands-on wildlife experience with a variety of animal orphans, and assist in the rehabiliation and release process. Work in Zimbabwe's only dedicated primate rehabilitation centre, with a mission for there to be no captive primates in Zimbabwe.

Join the sanctuary's team who have one goal in mind - the rehabilitation and release of Zimbabwe's wildlife. 

Baboons and monkeys are the often-overlooked victims of the human-wildlife conflict, losing their natural habitat to over-grazing, agricultural expansion and the growth in human settlements. Their biggest predators are humans and are often treated as vermin, being shot or poisoned for eating crops and small livestock.

No animal is ever turned away from the centre, and every volunteer assists with their daily care, from Klipie the Klipsringer, Yoda and Marley the bushbabies, Kuda, Lucy and Umfazi the baboons and Peck the ostrich.

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Quick Facts

Who can join: Volunteers aged over 18 years (families and accompanied volunteers under 18 will be considered on application)
How long can I stay: 2 -12 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer house
Transfer time: 30 minutes
Pick up from: Bulawayo
Meals: 2 meals a day
Project numbers: 4
Start dates: Flexible, closed mid-December - end January 2019
How much: from $1,800 (2 weeks)


A truly unique wildlife experience, where you will work in Zimbabwe's only wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of primates. Focusing, but not limited to, primate care, volunteers assist in all aspects of daily animal care, working to rehabilitate and release wherever possible.


The sanctuary was founded in 2014 when Umfazi the orphaned baby baboon was given to the team to raise. It remains the only dedicated primate rehabilitation and release facility in Zimbabwe. Since 2014, when the sanctuary was purpose-built to house primates, the centre has grown and has an open door policy to any animal in need of care.

The project's mission is for there to be no primates in captivity in Zimbabwe.

The project has a very successful release record, having released many once-captive baboons and monkeys back into the wilderness of the Matobo National Park - one of the country's largest and most unspoilt areas. Other small animals, including pangolins, servals, owls and bush babies, have been successfully released into a Phase 2 release site in a local wildlife haven.

What you'll be doing

The human-wildlife conflict has resulted in numerous cases of orphaned primates, who, if not rescued, spend their lives in small cages. Volunteers will assist in animal rehabilitation, working towards their successful release back into the wild.

Animal care:

  • Work hands-on with wildlife orphans
  • Help raise baby monkeys and baboons - from bottle-feeding to bush walks, all the way to reintroduction and release
  • Assist with food preparation and feeding of a variety of species, from zebra and ostrich, to antelope, birds and bush babies

Behaviour enrichment:

  • Go on bush walks with primates (and whichever other animals are keen to join in!), stimulating them to explore their natural habitat
  • Build enrichment toys, platforms and playgrounds
  • Work with animals who are not candidates for release because of mental or physical issues

Rehabilitation and release:

  • Understand the rehabilition process as it applies to all animals at the sanctuary
  • Be part of individual animals release strategies
  • Monitor released animals on foot, horseback and by vehicle
  • Join the veterinary team when releases are carried out (usually from September to April)
  • Undertake snare sweeps, litter picks and boundary patrols of the release sites

Community outreach

The project runs an outreach programme where children come on educational tours of the sanctuary, learning the importance of wildlife preservation and kindness to animals. Volunteers will:

  • Help run day visits and educational tours
  • Assist with making materials for the visits


Just when you think you've seen it all, something new comes along! The days are definitely never dull.

A week at a glance


Volunteers live at the sanctuary in purpose-built brick and canvas accommodation. Your home will be a large thatched open plan lodge-style house with two bedrooms, living room and kitchen. Rooms are shared (same sex sharing) and there is hot and cold running water for the showers. The water runs off a solar geysers and the house has solar electricity only, so make sure to bring plenty of spare batteries for cameras. Cameras and phones can be charged in the evenings, but it is recommended, if you are able, to bring along solar charging setups for your devices and lots of spare batteries or solar chargers for head torches.

There is a laundry service available and a housekeeper who comes Monday - Friday.

Being on-site means that you are able to be close to the orphans day and night in case you are needed for night-time bottle feeds. You might find yourself with a little orphan sleeping with you! The sanctuary is also home to three deaf Dalmatians who are all rescues. They are easily excited and will seek attention wherever you are! Popular volunteers are those with the energy for evening walks and runs!

Food is provided for breakfast and lunch, and volunteers are responsible for making their own meals. There is a range of food provided including rolls, bread, cereals, milk, cold meats, fruits and pasta. If you have any dietary requirements, inform us when signing up for the programme. Volunteers cook dinner at the house (budget $5-8 per meal), and the team generally goes to a local restaurant for dinner once a week.

There is no WiFi available at the sanctuary, however you can purchase a local SIM card and buy data bundles for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and emails, to enable you to keep up to date with the outside world. Do bring games, books and other activities for the evenings - laptops and DVDs are welcome.

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

The project runs from late January through to the end of November. Volunteers should aim to arrive and leave on a Monday, but dates can be flexible.

Project pricing

2019 pricing for this project is as follows (all prices in USD):

2 weeks: $1,800
3 weeks: $2,520
4 weeks: $3,240
6 weeks: $4,440
8 weeks: $5,640
10 weeks: $6,600
12 weeks: $7,560

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Bulawayo
  • Accommodation, lunch and breakfast
  • Laundry and housekeeping
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
  • 24 hour support and guidance from the volunteer programme staff

The programme cost excludes:

  • Transport by air or bus to Bulawayo
  • Visas
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date
  • Any personal items such as dinners, alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet

Combination Projects

We highly recommend spending as much time in Zimbabwe as possible and combining this project with our Rhino & Elephant Conservation Programme is a popular option.

Our combination Conservancy & Rehabilitation Programme gives you the best of both projects, and covers transfers between the two. Experience life in a 10,000 acre conservancy dedicated to black rhino protection, and work in a sanctuary focused on the rescue, rehabilitation and release of primates. Split your time between two amazing projects and get a rounded experience of large and small animal conservation in Zimbabwe.

Combination project pricing is as follows:

2 weeks (one week on each): $1,995
4 weeks (two weeks on each): $3,695 **recommended**


View our booking terms and conditions


Who should volunteer?

This is a wonderful experience for volunteers of all ages, where you will experience Africa in a safe environment, work hard and become part of a very special team. No experience is required to volunteer - as long as you have a passion for wildlife and an enthusiastic “can-do” attitude, you are very welcome!

How old do I need to be?

The minimum age for the project is 18 years. There is no upper age limit, but if you are over 65 we will need a completed medical form signed by a doctor. The project will consider applications from under 18s who are accompanied by an appropriate adult, and families with younger children. Please enquire for details.

How many people will there be?

There is a maximum of 4 volunteers at one time plus staff and managers.

Do I get some time off?

Volunteers work Monday to Saturday lunchtime. Saturday afternoon and Sunday is leisure time where you can explore Bulawayo and the surrounding areas. Weekend visits to Victoria Falls (a 45 minute flight) can be arranged.

When can I arrive?

Volunteers should aim to arrive and depart on a Monday, although start dates can be flexible to fit in with your ideal dates and other projects you might be joining. The programme is closed in December and part of January to allow staff to take time off. Please enquire for available dates in January 2019.

How long can I volunteer for?

2 - 12 weeks (1 week available on request). Longer stays can be accommodated, please enquire for more details.

Do I need a visa?

Most nationalities can get a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival into either Harare, Bulawayo or Victoria Falls Airports (Bulawayo is the most local to the project). Fees are dependent on nationality and vary from around $30 to $75. Extensions are available from the Bulawayo Department of Immigration, to a maximum stay of 6 months.

Please check prior to arrival your visa eligibility.

What animals are at the sanctuary?

The sanctuary is currently home to 9 baboons, 14 monkeys, antelope, bush pigs, an ostrich, various exotic birds and owls, mongoose, bush babies and three deaf Dalmations (usually found in volunteer bedrooms).

Volunteering in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is the true home of Conservation Travel Africa. The country has previously been in the international news for all the wrong reasons, but the reality is quite different and tourism is beginning to grow again in one of Africa’s most beautiful and unspoilt countries.

The country offers something for every traveller - from the absolute wilderness of Gonarezhou and Mana Pools to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and the hustle and bustle of Africa’s adventure capital, Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is rich in colour and through adversity, the people have retained their resolve, sense of humour and friendliness.

No trip to Zimbabwe would be complete without a visit to Victoria Falls. Mosi-au-Tunya (“The Smoke that Thunders") is accepted to have the largest sheet of falling water in the world (1,708m wide and 108m high), and is located on the far western tip of Zimbabwe on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Victoria Falls is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

As well as the Falls being a definite must-see for visitors, Victoria Falls town is a also lively centre for adventure. For white water rafting the best time to visit is when the waters in the Zambezi are low (August - December) - these rapids have often been referred to as the best one-day white water rafting in the world.

Hwange National Park: at 14,000 square kilometers, Hwange is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream. With some of the most unspoilt wild areas in Zimbabwe, an abundance of elephants as well as leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo and over 100 bird species, a trip to Hwange must be on everyones To Do list.

Join our volunteer programme in Hwange National Park and the Zambezi National Park, and support their wildlife and rangers.

Mana Pools National Park: Mana Pools is synonymous with the Zambezi River, elephants, lions, wilderness and remote beauty. It is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its wild-ness and beauty together with its wide range of large mammals and birdlife. The name “mana” means “four” in Shona, relating to the four large pools inland from the Zambezi River, the remnants of four ancient ox-bow lakes. Spread over 2,196 square km, the Park is part of a region of 10,500 square km, from the Kariba Dam to the Mozambique border, which has no physical boundaries and animals are able to move freely throughout the area. It is the only National Park where visitors are allowed to walk unaccompanied by a guide.

Great Zimbabwe: a ruined stone city in south Zimbabwe, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the country’s late Iron Age, in around the 11th Century. One of its most prominent features are its 5m high stone walls, constructed entirely without mortar and the ruins are some of the oldest, largest and most impressive stone structures in Southern Africa. The city was built over a period of 300 years and it is believed that over 18,000 people lived there at its peak before being eventually abandoned and falling into ruins.

Nyanga: Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands is home to rolling green hills, majestic waterfalls and the country’s highest peak, Mount Inyangani. A tranquil retreat from the heat of the Lowveld, Nyanga is a haven for bird-lovers and hikers and is also home to rivers ideal for tubing and canoeing.

Other volunteer programmes in Zimbabwe:

Why not combine your primate conservation volunteer experience, with one of our other amazing projects in Zimbabwe?

Project Gallery - Primate Conservation, Zimbabwe

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