Written by Jess Vázquez – Human Resources VMF
Photographs supplied by VMF
Over 600 primates – orphaned, injured, abused, ex-laboratory or unwanted pets – call the Vervet Monkey Foundation in Tzaneen, Limpopo Province, home. This non-profit organisation was established in 1993 to rehabilitate and provide sanctuary to these gregarious, intelligent African animals.
An orphan started it all
In 1989, a tiny orphaned baby vervet monkey called Regus was found alone, defenceless and in dire need of help. The authorities suggested killing him as vervets were regarded as vermin.
We never considered this as an option and, of course, little Regus was rescued and taken into care. As news about Regus’ rescue spread, more and more orphans came in, desperate for help. The Vervet Monkey Foundation (VMF) was born to create sanctuary and rehabilitation for them and to educate people about vervet monkeys. In 2005, after years of dedicated work, the VMF finally managed to get them off the vermin list. Sadly, to this day, many people still see them as pests, a view which VMF continues to work tirelessly to combat.
Fast forward over three decades and the VMF has saved and improved the lives of hundreds of vervet monkeys. It’s a member of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance. Every year, VMF receives dozens of monkeys, from those kept illegally as pets to monkeys who’ve been shot, snared or hit by cars... and they all need help and a home to recover.
Helping hands make the difference
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Foundation’s development. They may be involved with hand-rearing orphans (in baby season) and see their integration in their new troops with their foster mums, watching them become real monkeys. Last season alone, over 40 orphaned babies who’d tragically lost their mums and families (many of which were killed by humans) were rescued, rehabilitated and integrated into troops, thanks to the many volunteers.
Outside of orphan season is a great time to experience the troop dynamics, and juvenile and adult integrations. Volunteers also help the monkeys further with general husbandry, feeding, building new enclosures, observations and maintaining the upkeep of the foundation. Without them, it would simply not be possible to help these special animals.
VMF relies on donations and sponsorships from kind-hearted people to feed and care for all the many needs of the many monkeys that need them.
You can help!
After 30 years of providing shelter to all these monkeys, the old enclosures need some refurbishing in order to improve the welfare, safety and living condition of all those animals under our care. All these restorations mean an extra expense for us, as we’re a non-governmental (NGO) and non-profit (NPO) charity, and all contributions are highly appreciated: https://donorbox.org/30-year-anniversary-revamp
For more information on the Vervet Monkey Foundation, volunteering and to see our latest campaigns and programmes, please visit our website, where you can also read about why vervet monkeys are often in trouble, and to find out more about our rehabilitation programme which integrates rehabilitated vervet monkeys into a natural environment, you can find it here: