Ellie Markowski - 2014 Program Participant

Vervet Monkeys feeding in South Africa

Lola & Dimitri using the feeding cage while foster mum Jessie keeps a close watch.

What inspired you to volunteer abroad?

I hope to work with primates in the future, so wanted hands on experience.

Why did you choose the Vervet Monkey Foundation for your volunteer program?

It was recommended by a volunteering company and it looked perfect, plus I had always wanted to go to South Africa.

What was your favorite part about your program?

The vervet monkeys.

What makes the Vervet Monkey Foundation unique?

The amount of dedication it takes to look after over 500 vervet monkeys is a lot! The owners have so much compassion, which makes it an incredible place to volunteer and you truly do make a difference.

Orphaned Vervet Monkey in South Africa

Close up of beautiful orphan Lola whom I named. Her mother was killed so she could be a pet but now thanks to the Vervet Monkey Foundation she lives with a whole new troop where she gets to play all day and get lots of cuddles.

How did local staff support you during your volunteer program?

The local staff are very friendly and play an important role in the care of the vervets too.

If you could do it again, what would you change about your program?

Stayed for longer!

Describe a day in the life of a Vervet Monkey Foundation volunteer.

Each day is different. But the vervets have to be fed, which involves cutting up food for them. Daily tasks also include giving out forage, observing troops, caring for the orphaned baby vervets, checking and changing milk bottles for the orphaned babies that have been integrated into troops, and giving out sprouts and seeds to the troops.

What did you enjoy most about working with the vervets?

Watching the young juvenile vervets play. They can do flips and they bound all over the huge, natural enclosures bouncing off trees and having so much fun!

What was your accommodation like in South Africa?

Cute little cabins with comfortable beds, that you can either share with someone or have one to yourself. You can make the cabin your own :)

Orphaned Vervet Monkey being groomed by her new family

The first day orphan Celestia was released into the troop with foster mum Uh-Oh. As you can see she was incredibly popular which is why there are many other vervets surrounding her and grooming Uh-Oh to get close to Celestia.

Now that you have returned home, how have your experience abroad stayed with you?

I can't stop thinking about my three month experience and all I want to do is go back, which I hopefully will do after I have finished studying. I also became vegan during my stay as it is a vegan foundation. I couldn't be happier with my choice and I feel great.