Volunteer at a Chimpanzee Sanctuary
We first travelled to the Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Sanctuary in northern Zambia in 2009 where we identified the opportunity to develop the volunteer experience at this magical place. The wildlife orphanage originally started as a family-run organisation in 1983 by David and Sheila Siddle, when a game ranger brought in a badly wounded infant chimp named ‘Pal’ which they raised into adulthood.
Chimfunshi is now home to over 120 chimpanzees rescued from poachers where they would be sold into the bush meat trade, or as pets; and from dilapidated zoos and circuses across the world.
As a volunteer on this project you’ll help care for wild chimpanzees through behavioural enrichment activities, infrastructure development and community farming initiatives. You’ll have a chance to interact with these mischievous animals on bush walks, and you’ll also play a vital role in chimpanzee research.
Volunteering with chimpanzees on this project you’ll learn interesting facts and all about chimp behaviour and characteristics, social dynamics and threats. You’ll even learn about animal tracking when you do boundary patrols, and you could find yourself taking home new skills like building, painting, planting and farming!
Volunteers also learn to live in the true African bush, isolated from the Western world. This project takes on only a handful of volunteers at a time but you’ll work closely with the team on the ground to make the biggest impact you can. This is a great platform for personal growth, self-awareness and appreciation for life’s little things.
VOLUNTEER WORK AND IMPACTS
Chimfunshi gives refuge to over 120 chimps rescued from the bush meat trade, circuses, zoos and bars. In partnership with Chimfunshi, African Impact created this volunteer program abroad to help care for and conserve these rescued chimps. This sanctuary is one of the few places on earth that rescued chimpanzees can live out their lives in safety, and there are endless things which need doing to ensure this continued. The volunteer work you will be involved in includes:
Chimps need to be kept stimulated to encourage continued mental development. As a volunteer you will use your creativity in creating structures, toys and food-based challenges in the enclosures such as tyre swings, shaking boxes with food inside, peanut mazes; and hiding food in difficult to reach places.
Farming and food preparation
In a bid to be more self-sufficient on this project and rely less on donations for food, we started a fruit tree nursery with both indigenous and exotic fruit trees which we propagate on the project. Volunteers assist with watering, weeding, pruning and fertilizing these trees and once grown you’ll assist with harvesting and feeding the chimps. Volunteers help with farming of vegetables, which not only to sustain the chimps, but help support the local community too. Volunteers also assist the keepers with food preparations – making nshima balls from ground maize – and preparing fruit and vegetables.
Chimpanzees need exercise outside of their enclosures and volunteers participate in a ‘bush walk’ with some the chimps, guided by a trained Chimpanzee Handler. It is during these walks that you’ll be able to interact and connect with chimps in their natural surroundings.
Chimpanzee research awareness
There are often international researchers based at Chimfunshi working on understanding how the chimpanzee groups differ in their social dynamics. You will assist in research activities by monitoring the chimps, collating data, taking photographs and gathering history to create identikits. This data is also used for the ‘Chimp of the Week’ post on our Facebook page, where we share the history and personalities of our chimps with our followers. All this plays a vital role in raising awareness for chimpanzees and the dangers they face; and to promote the Chimfunshi Wildlife Sanctuary.
As a volunteer you’ll get your hands dirty building thatched shelters or enclosures, mend fences and improve infrastructure at Chimfunshi, which helps both tourism and the chimpanzees themselves. You’re guaranteed to get a great workout from these types of tasks so prepare to get in shape!
In 2002, an Education Centre was built to provide a facility to teach the youth in the area about ecology and wildlife conservation. It is also used by local and international students researching group behavior and ethnic studies. Volunteers often assist by teaching conservation, English and adult literacy as well as facilitating kids clubs which involve arts and crafts, reading, games and sports.
THINGS TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME
The living/dining area is under a thatched lapa where meals are taken and also where we have regular movies nights with popcorn. There is also a pit fire where we share stories and toast marshmallows.
The Flood Plain
There is a flood plain nearby where volunteers play cricket, volleyball and soccer with the local children. It’s also a great place to enjoy a sundowner, barbeque, and some top quality stargazing!
Visits to local villages
The closest town to Chimfunshi is Chingola, approx. 2 hours away, has a delicious Indian restaurant we visit each week and we also travel there to purchase their own personal items plus any snacks or drinks. Every 3rd week our volunteers travel with our team to the town of Kitwe, where they have the opportunity to browse and buy curios/souvenirs at the markets again indulge in some yummy local cuisine.
Muchinshi is the closest village, a 45 minute drive, where volunteers have enjoyed a few beverages at one of the local bars and a chance to take on the Muchinshi pool champions
Canoe trips safari
During the dry season (May – November), you can canoe and fish on the Kafue river.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn new cooking skills or share your favourite dish from your home country on ‘culture night’ where you’ll help prepare meals with other volunteers.
- Interact with young orphaned chimpanzees, who are very much in need of some love and affection
- Be a part of the day to day life in the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world
- Play an important role in the conservation of this endangered species
- Assist with educating local Zambia children about wildlife conservation
Interested in this; ready to enquire?
Find out more by filling out the form below and clicking send. African Impact should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.