Baboon Rehabilitator & Care-Giver

founded in 1989
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Coordinator | Vanessa
Coordinator | Vanessa
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Volunteer within a stunning Big Five Nature Reserve in The Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa
Experience this pioneering rehabilitation process of healing orphaned chacma baboons
Make a difference in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned chacma baboons giving them a second chance at being free and wild again.
Meet like-minded volunteers from all over the world and build life-long friendships
Go on an adventurous safari tour through Kruger National Park on your days-off, arranged and guided by our CARE Guide.
Help to care for our rescued baboons. Potentially help orphaned babies*, facilitate bonding to baboon surrogate mothers, clean enclosures of the adults, make food & milk. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

About the program

C.A.R.E. is a reputable wildlife rehabilitation centre since 1989, with over 400 baboons in our care.  We need your help to provide the best care and welfare for all the animal orphans which deserve a wonderful life after humans took so much from them.  We are located within a stunning Big Five Private Nature Reserve, in the Greater Kruger National Park. 

Our volunteer program provides a unique experience working with the beautiful chacma baboons of South Africa alongside other iconic African animals. You may wake up one morning, look outside and see an elephant or giraffe, grazing peacefully on an Acacia tree. You'll hear the rutting of the impala, the call of jackals, and even the low roar of lions. Located 45 minutes from the nearest town, C.A.R.E. is truly out in the bush and every day is a safari day (with plenty of hard work), offering an escape from the bustle of everyday life. 

C.A.R.E. greatly needs volunteers to help hand-raise baby baboon orphans, assist with their bonding to baboon surrogate mothers, assist with the rehabilitation of baboons who have 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; to bond with the baboons in a way that is incomprehensible to most, to watch them grow in confidence, and to witness them becoming wild, sociable animals again, is an experience with unparalleled rewards that our volunteers will never forget.

Whilst the work is varied and involves caring for the orphan baby baboons, some ex-laboratory sanctuary baboons and the husbandry of the adult baboons, there are never any guarantees that orphans will have just arrived and be in the early hands-on care stage of rehabilitation during your stay with us.  Orphaned baby primates grow quickly and we try to give them to surrogate baboon mothers as soon as they are ready; to ensure they are wild and fulfil our goals and promises to them to give them back a social family.  With 430 baboons, all previously orphaned and awaiting release, there is so much essential work and additional experiences you'll partake in to ensure C.A.R.E. is achieving its broader goals of helping the communities and environment on a greater scale.  We take our role as rehabilitators seriously, and you are very welcome to come and help and learn all about the incredible baboons, who amaze us with their intelligence every day.  

Here are some of the activities you may be involved in, depending on how many volunteers there are available at the centre and which staff are available. The volunteers are always assigned to the raising of the orphans, and if we have enough hands we enjoy getting our other projects off the ground too. Our Outreach and Education Program is a vital part of the project, working closely with other organizations locally to increase support of the baboons and educating children to respect and understand baboons, all of which you are welcome to help and take part in.

Volunteer tasks
  • Hand Rearing Orphan Baby Baboons (if there are any in this phase of rehabilitation during your stay)
  • Being a Primate Keeper for Adult Baboons  (prepare food, clean enclosures, make enrichment, collect grass)
  • Enrichment Program; make enrichment such as ice-lollies, packed bamboo or kong toys, hang up balls for our blind baboon Stevie wonder, or provide social enrichment to our very old, geriatric baboon Patats by visiting her with treats)
  • Husbandry of adult baboons undergoing rehabilitation
  • Veterinary Experience; take fecal samples, have a look through the microscope
  • Behavioural Observations; we monitor the baboons every day; checking health, demeanor, oestrus swellings and more
  • Data collection
  • Enclosure Maintenance
  • Collecting natural vegetation for feeding; the animals love seedpods, fresh green grass and branches to browse on and play with
  • Collecting natural items for enrichment and feeding
  • Cleaning enclosures: enclosures are cleaned every day, we hope you will help.  Scrubbing, hosing, replacing fresh grass. It's hard work but really rewarding and the baboons are obviously excited when they enter their new, clean home with fresh hay and branches to look through.
  • Husbandry for the smaller animals including adorable rescued guinea pigs and rabbits
  • Cleaning and organising all areas of the centre
  • Tracking; our staff can take you for a river walk, to learn tracks and signs of other wildlife. Seeing a lion print in the sand it something you will not forget!
  • Alien and Invasive Plant Removal; we need assistance to keep the invasive plants at the river under control, and sometimes the team get together at the end of the day and do a mass removal; it is a great team-bonding time too.
  • Education of School Children at the Centre 
  • Community Outreach with other projects including: Vaccinations and health check (veterinary program) in rural areas for community dogs, spreading the awareness of baboons, visiting a community eco-village and childrens creche / after school program.
  • Opportunities to go on excursions; e.g. the Kruger National Park next door, the Panorama Route (Blyde Canyon, waterfalls etc.), horse riding safaris, nearby attractions all arranged and guided by our CARE staff.

Typical day

Working with a large number of wild animals means that your day can change in an instance but generally your day will include the following:

06:00am:  Wake Up & Make Bottles for baby baboons and prepare feed-sacks of chopped veggies for adults
07:00am: Breakfast - make your own from the cereals and toast provided
08:00am: Cleaning out the rescued animals in the Education Centre (snakes if you aren't scared, you won't be scheduled to help if you are! Bearded dragon care and take her to her daytime enclosure, clean out the rabbits / guinea-pigs / chickens)
9:00 - 11:00am:  Enclosure Cleaning in Phase II with the adult baboons; hose, scrub, replace with fresh hay
10:00am:  Bottle/food preparation 
11:00am:  Nursery supervision of youngest orphans (if we have orphans in this phase of rehab)
12pm:  Lunch
13:00pm:  Make Enrichment 
14:00pm:  Nursery supervision of youngest orphans (if we have orphans in this phase of rehab)
15:00pm: Bottle/food preparation
15:30pm: Collect fresh grass, branches or seedpods for the baboons to have in the morning
16:00pm:  Cleaning of Milk Kitchen, giving evening meals, water top up and preparing beds for the chickens, rabbits.
17:00pm:  Playtime with the youngest orphans along the banks of the Olifants River, or alien plant removal at the river, or just enjoying nature at the river.
17:00 or 18:00: Your day is done! Time to shower and hang out with other volunteers at the River or in the Volunteer Village. You can organise a braii, games evenings, movie nights and more. Star-gazing is amazing at C.A.R.E.; the stars are incredible.
18:00pm: Dinner! A great time to catch up with everyone and then get ready to start another day!

In addition to the activities above, other duties may include: assisting in our veterinary clinic, bark/browse collection for troop enrichment, taking care of our rescued guinea pigs/chickens, construction work including building large swings to install in enclosures, spending time with "Patats"- one of our sanctuary baboons who needs social enrichment, observations of the wild baboon troop, games drives, gardening, and much, much more!

Free-time activities

Looking after 430 baboons is a huge task and a 7 day a week job! 

However, we know that our volunteers need time off so we encourage it! The days at C.A.R.E. can be long and hot so it's essential that you rest and reboot so you can continue helping the baboons.

Many volunteers take a day off each week and head to the lodge nearby to to swim and relax.

As we are located so close to the Kruger National Park, a safari is also a must! We can help arrange 1 or 2 day safaris into the park. There are other excursions near by that our volunteers love to visit including, A Community Dog Care Project helping care for dogs in the Community, Nourish, a local project giving Education to local school children, a reptile park and a rehabilitation centre focusing on indigenous African animals, visits to the Blyde River Canyon (Panorama Tour) and curios shopping. 

We can schedule all of these activities for you- it's a great way to see more of South Africa and enjoy a much-deserved day off!

Volunteers will generally have at least one hour off each working day to relax, read, socialise with other volunteers, do laundry, or nap. That time is your own! You can request more time off if you need it also.



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 (basic level)
Required Documents
CV for long term applicants, Enrollment form, Indemnity form and Proof of insurance
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
A strong work ethic, professionalism, safety conscious and lover of all animals great and small is a must. You will be working in the heat of the African bush; cleaning, feeding, preparing food, collecting natural foods and more.

Qualifications and previous experience aren’t something we necessarily look for; but it is preferred. A desire to want to make a positive difference, a love of animals, a strong work ethic enthusiasm for new experiences is a must. C.A.R.E. is not a holiday.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 - 17:30

What's Included

Services by C.A.R.E.

We highly recommend volunteers staying for more than 2 weeks, as it takes around about 2 weeks to really settle in and become competent with training and confidence.  We understand that for some it isn't a possibility though, you are still very welcome!  Please note our volunteer program starts and ends on a Monday.

The volunteer fee covers: 

  1. Accommodation in a 2-3 person room
  2. 3 vegetarian (usually vegan) meals per day (except "luxury" items, you are welcome to by your own meat / dairy products to supplement)
  3. Electricity, water use (please be environmentally aware)
  4. A donation to the animals you will be caring for
  5. All training, which includes presentations, tours, videos, on the job training; you receive a certificate at the end of your stay for future employers / your personal keep sake

The fee does not cover

  1. Flights
  2. Any visas related costs 
  3. Travel insurance
  4. Vaccinations or any tests which are required for your stay (tetanus and TB are mandatory, if you do not have TB you will need to have a test to confirm you are TB free
  5. Covid tests; please bring a rapid test for your arrival
  6. It also does not cover a one-time conservation fee of R100 (about $7) due to our location on a private nature reserve
  7. Transfers from the airport
  8. Any excursions you choose to do whilst with us

  1. We recommend that you take either a shuttle service or a flight from Johannesburg airport.  There is a shuttle service which is very reputable that runs from OR Tambo all the way to Grietjie Nature Reserve gate (the gate of our reserve where we can pick you up).  This is a new service running for the last 3 or so years and has been recommended highly by other volunteers.  Services include SWIFT or Safari Link shuttles. We can send you more info when you book.
  2. Another way to get here is to take a flight to HOEDSPRUIT airport, where we will collect you also
  3. We presently charge the following return transfer fees;
    1. HOEDSPRUIT AIRPORT PICK UP; R800 (ZAR local currency)
    4. Grietjie Reserve Gate (where the shuttle company can drop you); R200

We are always interested in long-term volunteers so please contact us to discuss fees.


You will be accommodated in our "Volunteer Village". The village consists of 6 rooms, each sleeping 2-3 people. 

The rooms and facilities are basic but comfortable and relatively newly built.

The rooms are situated around a communal garden space. 

There are showers, sinks, flushing toilets, and a small volunteer kitchen which you can keep your own food / drinks etc. that you have purchased; there is a fridge and drinkable water from the sinks. 

We also have a games lounge, the "Zebra Zone" with a darts board, TV and DVDs. 

There is a braai area (South African BBQ) where we often cook and sit around a campfire as well and some picnic tables for you to hang-out and socialise at.

The Volunteer Village is located inside a secure electric fence.

We provide bedding. 

Please bring your own towel and mosquito net - mosquito tents are recommended.

Internet is available within the volunteer accommodation, there is a small surcharge to get connected.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

We provide basic food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and urge volunteers to buy their own 'extras' and luxuries.

Volunteers prepare their own breakfast (cereal, toast and condiments are provided, including a soya milk option)

Lunch and dinner are cooked by volunteers who put themselves forward to cook; usually our long-terms but also many short-terms like to try; the ingredients are provided by C.A.R.E.; usually a mix of lentils, beans, herbs / spices / curry, rice, potatoes, pasta and either coconut milk or diced tomato sauce bases.  Meals are often things which are easy to cook in bulk for a large group like; curry and rice, spaghetti and sauce, pasta bake, baked potatoes and sides, pie and veggies, mac and 'cheese', potato wedges with beans and veggies, salad side.  You are very welcome to buy your own food during shopping days at your own expense and keep it in the Volunteer Village kitchen if you prefer luxury / special food items.  

The diet at C.A.R.E. is Vegetarian, almost Vegan, however, and we are able to cater for gluten-free, and many other dietary requirements. Please let us know if you have any restrictions.

Our budget does not cover fruit, you can purchase this at the local store for yourself and "luxury" food items such as crisps, chocolate, soda, etc., are not provided by the Centre. There is a weekly shopping trip to town where volunteers can purchase other luxury items. 

Usually we have an on-site tuck-shop too so you can buy soda and chocolate.

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 Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) in Hoedspruit. 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

Please note that we are now fully booked between the 27th of February and the 7th of April. 

Please plan your travel to arrive and depart on a Monday

Our Arrival and departure day is a MONDAY to enable the co-ordination of Pick Ups and your Education Program which will commence the day on or after you arrive. 

We give you time to settle in and a complete education program so that you know exactly what you will be doing.

You will be given a tour of our Phase 1 Rehabilitation Area, see where the main kitchen and working areas are, where you will take your meals, where to do your laundry (or drop it off for the cleaning lady), see the Bonding Enclosures, Semi-Wild enclosures, Nursery and more.

You will receive presentations, tours, and fill out the necessary forms in the first few days, whilst getting on the job training.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 50 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
8 weeks
12 weeks
24 weeks
50 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$350 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. C.A.R.E. 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 C.A.R.E. during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Flex Option
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Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if C.A.R.E. cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by C.A.R.E..

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Baboon Rehabilitator & Care-Giver

Help to care for our rescued baboons. Potentially help orphaned babies*, facilitate bonding to baboon surrogate mothers, clean enclosures of the adults, make food & milk.


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