Volunteering in South Africa – Baboon Rehabilitation

volunteer with animals

Thanks Sam for this Guest post! Who is Sam?

Meet Sam from Yoko Meshi. She loved her time volunteering in South Africa at C.A.R.E in baboon rehabilitation and was kind enough to share her story. She is a Qualified Veterinary Nurse living in London with a keen interest in exotic and wild animals. In her spare time, she runs a travel and lifestyle blog, Yoko Meshi, with a particular emphasis on ethical animal experiences around the world. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook

Volunteering with baboons

In January 2016, I flew to Phalaborwa, South Africa to volunteer my time at the Centre for Animal Education and Rehabilitation (C.A.R.E), a centre primarily focused on the successful rehabilitation of Chacma Baboons back into the wild.

On arrival, a guided tour was given and the mission of the centre explained, it was essentially ‘the successful release of all the baboons back into the wild’, I knew immediately I had chosen the right place. Most of C.A.R.E’s rescue cases involve orphan babies which have been the result of their mother being killed by hunting or poisoning, due to the Chacma Baboon being seen as vermin by many in South Africa. Adult baboons are often rescued from the pet trade, research laboratories or even more shockingly from witch doctors.

In the U.K my profession is a Veterinary Nurse, so my time at C.A.R.E was based in their purpose built Veterinary hospital. A Veterinary Nurses’ role can range from medicating to monitoring anesthetics  to even wound suturing.  Now I am very confident in my skills as a nurse but treating a wild animal in a limited facility charity is a whole different ball game to treating a domestic pet in a hospital with all the necessary equipment and drugs. I feel the experience really challenged and strengthened my nursing skills, in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in my job at home.

animal volunteer

With no full-time Veterinary Staff, the team rely solely on Volunteer Vets and Nurses to assist with the sick and injured baboons, so I really felt like the time I donated not only benefited but was valued by the centre as well. I was able to share my veterinary knowledge to the full-time staff at the centre as well as learning such much from them, which in turn helps to provide more successful and enriched life for the baboons until their time of release.

However it wasn’t all work, each day had allocated ‘nursery’ time.  Dedicated playtime with the orphan baby baboons who were still young enough to have surrogate human mothers, time was spent stimulating their brains and slowly teaching them how to act like baboons, until they are old enough to be successfully integrated into a troop of their own kind. After their successful integration into a troop, all human contact is ended, this is essential to give them the best chance at a fully wild life once they are released.

animal volunteer

During my time at C.A.R.E I had an experience and made memories I know I will remember for the rest of my life while also creating a positive impact in lives of the Baboons that are being looked after there. That is something that is pretty amazing and not something that happens every day. The opportunity not only made me grow as a Veterinary Nurse but also as a person, it also opened my eyes to the horrific way these beautiful intelligent animals are treated in both the pet trade and in the wild for being perceived as vermin. I am so grateful there are centres like C.A.R.E in South Africa fighting for them and giving them a second chance at life.

About C.A.R.E

Based in Phalaborwa South Africa on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park, C.A.R.E’s goal is to successfully rehabilitate each baboon for a successful life back in the wild.C.A.R.E. is very experienced when it comes to the release of baboons back into the wild, and has celebrated huge, pioneering success in this field of conservation science.

Have you volunteered? We would love to hear from you!

If you have volunteered with a small, community-based organisation that upholds the values of responsible volunteering, we would love to hear from you! This wonderful post from Sam is part of our monthly volunteering guest post series. If you would like to share your story, please email laura@grassrootsnomad.com Thank you!

Don’t forget this volunteering tip, pin the image below!
volunteering in South Africa

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