People volunteer at Ape Action Africa (AAA) for different reasons. Whether you go because you want to get sweaty in the name of conservation, learn about primates close-up, or work in a tropical forest alongside Cameroonians and people from all over the world, volunteers leave AAA forever changed.
Volunteers take stories, memories, and pictures from the sanctuary that they keep for a lifetime. Some people volunteer once and appreciate their time in Cameroon and their new perspective on wildlife and the environment. Others return to the sanctuary year after year to watch the orphaned monkeys, chimps, and gorillas they met flourish in their new adoptive families. The work that volunteers do—helping with animal feeding, construction projects, education, or veterinary care—improves the primates’ lives in tangible ways. Perhaps most important though, is that volunteering at Ape Action Africa is doing good instead of doing harm.
As a cultural anthropologist who studies the role of African sanctuaries in the illegal wildlife trade, I know the danger of “fake sanctuaries.” Fake sanctuaries are animal facilities that call themselves “sanctuaries” or rehabilitation centers but exist to make a profit. They charge high fees in exchange for giving volunteers the opportunity to touch, play, and take pictures with the animals at their facility. National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/140320-animal-sanctuary-wildlife-exotic-tiger-zoo), PETA (https://www.peta.org/features/real-animal-sanctuary-zoo/),
the Global Federation of Wildlife Sanctuaries, and the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (https://primatesanctuaries.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/True-vs-Pseudo-Sanctuaries.pdf) all warn of the dangers of fake sanctuaries. Volunteers who go to them to hold and play with baby monkeys, chimps, and gorillas do harm. These volunteers put primates in danger by exposing them to illness and hurt their social development by making it harder for the infants to form healthy relationships with members of their own species as they grow (https://www.sapiens.org/culture/chimpanzee-human-touch/).
Ape Action Africa is a real sanctuary. After multiple trips there over the past six years, I know that everything they do is in the name of protecting Africa’s primates. They are accredited by PASA, the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance (https://pasa.org/) (look for an accredited sanctuary if you are going to volunteer!). They have long-established care and safety practices that they’ve developed over decades of caring for rescued primates. Infants are cared for by specially trained permanent staff, and volunteers participate in primate care by preparing animal enrichment and meals, cutting browse, and helping with the upkeep of animal housing and their forest enclosures. At a sanctuary like Ape Action Africa, volunteers can rest assured that their work and donations, which help fund the running of the sanctuary and caregiver salaries, are making a positive difference in wildlife conservation in Africa.
-Amy Hanes, PhD
Having known Rachel from when she still lived in the UK (many moons ago) I finally had the opportunity to volunteer in Cameroon 4 years ago. I cannot stress what an incredible job Rachel and her team do at Ape Action Africa. I met some truly remarkable people who gave amazing care and respect to the victims of the bush meat trade. I would 100% recommend anyone to volunteer there (when possible) it will be an experience that will stay with you forever.
Ape Action Africa is a place that leaves a part of your heart touched forever.
I was fortunate enough to volunteer here AAA in 2009. I wasnt able to return until some 10 years later.
Every single person I met, and know from here, has true passion for what they do. The dedication to every animal in the park and quest to educate all, who have willing ears, on the bigger picture of ; animal welfare, the meat trade, deforestisation, conservation and sustainability issues is commendable.
The AAA family is incredible and I hope I will get back again.
Together... small steps, made by a committed team, make change!
Thank you for all you do and for allowing me to play my part with you!
This is a fantastic charity and the work they do can’t be underestimated. The apes rescued are often left traumatised by their experience and this small team work day and night with them to help them recover. Without this place many of the apes like Ndongo - rescued as a baby after his Mother was killed - likely wouldn’t make it. It’s a special place run by special dedicated people.
I first learnt about Ape Action Africa when my mum first started volunteering there over 10 years ago. She encouraged me to watch the 2006 tv series Going Ape that featured AAA and the incredible work they do. I knew from that point I had to go over an experience it for myself. Since then I have traveled to the sanctuary three times and every experience has been different but always amazing! Can’t wait to get back over there as soon a possible!
Ape Action came to my attention through my friend Jo, who began volunteering for them a few years ago. Through hearing her passion and her sharing with me the incredible stories of the animals they worked with like Ndongo and Shufai it was really easy to sign up and dontate.
It is heartbreaking that these incredibles animals still face such brutality and challenges, but it is wonderful to know that there are people like Rachel and her team, along with the volunteers are out there doing all they can to make life better for them.
Seeing the updates on how each ape is developing, recovering and socialising again is a joy. The love and connections each of the keepers have with the animals is heartwarming. That is what community is all about.
This is such a worthwhile charity and one that I am so grateful to be able to help in any way I can.
I’ve always loved gorillas, well actually all the great apes to be honest.
I first became aware of Ape Action Africa after watching a programme about the rescue of the baby gorilla Shufai. It was heartbreaking to see what he had gone through and how traumatised he was. The dedication of the people involved in his rescue and care was heartwarming to see, but what really stuck with me was the special bond that formed between Shufai and Rachel when he eventually let her it. It stole my heart .
After finding out more about the work they did I decided to help in my own small way, firstly by asking my sons to adopt a gorilla or chimpanzee for my birthday each year. I always choose a different one every year as I can’t have a favourite, saying that the gorgeous Shufai is rather special. I also send small donations whenever I am able to, and often share their posts on social media, spreading the word can only be o good thing.
The work that Ape Action Africa do within the local community is also amazing, and has to be a good thing by giving people jobs, and educational programmes about the wildlife around them. Perhaps even inspiring some young people to become keeper and carers when they grow up.
It’s lovely to see all the video updates on their Facebook page, keeping us informed about what is happening there.
Hopefully one day there won’t be a need for rescue centres for these beautiful animals, but until that happens I will continue to support them for as long as I can.
Ape Action Africa is a very special place.
I have been following Ape Action Africa for over a year now. I wish I had done it sooner. I First saw a show about Ape Action Africa and what they are doing to protect critically endangered Grauer Gorillas and Chimp’s and other wildlife. It is a great cause and Rachel Hogan ended up going there to volunteer around 2002 and never left. She saw the need save Chimps, Gorillas etc. that need to be protected and cared for and to educate people living in nearby villages. It is such a great cause and they are all good people. They care more than you know about the animals they rescue and to help the near by villagers with farming and to stop humans from using these animals for bushmeat and pets.
Ape Action Africa has been part of my world since the first visit in 2005. Each year thereafter I've made every attempt to return. The dedication, commitment and ultimate care each worker has shown is remarkable and humbling to the soul. One can witness how much the project means to every person, and every cent received goes straight to the lives of those rescued.
The experiences I've had over the years with AAA has helped to confirm my path in life. Everlasting impressions, footprints on the heart, and live long relationships have been established through so many incredible experiences.
I first volunteered for Ape Action Africa in 2011 and have returned for a further 9 trips over the last ten years. I feel great pride in dedicating my efforts to such an amazing organization. I have seen first hand the high standard of care for the primates, the hard work and sensitivity taken when dealing with these traumatized animals. I know 100% of funds donated go directly to the sanctuary, and great care is taken with spending decisions, always the animals welfare is foremost of importance.
I first volunteered for Ape Action Africa in 2015 and having experienced, first hand, the incredible work they do, have been an avid supporter ever since. I was privileged enough to be able to revisit the sanctuary in 2019 and since then have dedicated myself to helping arrange much needed fundraising events.
A great nonprofit committedly working to conserve threatened wildlife in West Africa. I volunteered for Ape Action Africa in 2002 in Cameroon and am a donor to the organization. Ape Action Africa is passionate about and dedicated to its cause and very worthy of support.
Having volunteered for this charity I have experienced first hand the incredible work that they do to protect our primate cousins. The staff are truly dedicated and they work in partnership with the local community to provide holistic and sustainable solutions to address the impact of Cameroon’s illegal bushmeat trade.
I volunteered for 3 months with Ape Action Africa, and I have seen first hand the important work they are doing. As logging expands in Cameroon, more and more primates are orphaned and/or injured and Ape Action Africa provides a sorely needed place for them to come to and thrive in a natural forest environment. Every penny donated goes to the direct care of these animals , provided by caregivers and staff whose heartfelt work shows in their interactions with the animals, especially the young ones who come in so deeply damaged in body and spirit.
The need for ever expanding facilities is high as the bushmeat trade expands, and I am honored to support the heroic efforts of Ape Action Africa to rescue and provide sanctuary for these threatened beings.
I’ve been a big supporter of Ape Action Africa for years! I was able to go and volunteer there last year and it was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I will continue to be a proponent for ape conservation and Ape Action Africa’s efforts for life!
I first visited Ape Action Africa to see for myself what was being done on the ground to save gorillas. I expected the animals to be wonderful and they were, but I was simply overwhelmed by the talent and the dedication of the people who save their lives and give them a safe future. That first trip was more than a dozen years ago and as I have become closer to the organization I am continually impressed by the vision and sophistication that it takes to successfully operate a project of this scale - more than 280 animals and 50 staff - with all the challenges of culture, language, geography, politics and now pandemic. Definitely 5 stars!
Ape Action Africa is a very special place, and an extraordinary organization. My first volunteer stay there, in 2007, literally changed the course of my life. Because of my experiences there, and the heroic leaders, I left the corporate world and became a primate advocate and a fine art portrait painter (of primates). Ape Action Africa affords access into a rare world. One cannot help but be inspired by the magnificent sentient beings, the gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys who suffer the relentless onslaught by humans and who are given safe harbor there. The dedicated staff who care for them is admirable. Everything is for the primates in their care, preserving the forests, and working to improve the communities around them. Visitors come every day from all over the world, to be educated on the plight of the primates and the devastating deforestation, hunting and illegal pet trade. Ape Action Africa is an organization I wholeheartedly support and recommend.