Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage & Research Project

Wildlife care, conservation research and community education.

Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage is a haven for wild animals who had little hope to survive in the wild. Abandoned, injured and animals born in captivity or raised unsuccessfully are welcomed into a safe rehabilitation and care centre, run by a passionate team who devote their time to ensure this facility is the leading centre for rehabilitation and release in Zimbabwe.

Mpumpelelo volunteer working with serval
  • Animal care, feeding and husbandry
  • Wildlife rehabilitation and release
  • Hand rearing infant animals
  • Assisting with routine health and dietary requirements, including worming and vaccinations
  • Animal enrichment at the orphanage
  • Support wildlife research at the centre including data collection of zoological records including physiology and behaviour of species
  • Assist with leopard, cheetah and brown hyena population studies and biodiversity studies at the nearby Matopos National Park
  • Join the Environmental Programmes Involving Children (EPIC) project to assist in educating local communities, specifically school groups, about their natural heritage and wildlife conservation

Conservation Value

As a registered welfare organisation in Zimbabwe, Chipangali's roots were based on the founder's career in the Zambia government as a tsetse fly operator. Today, the centre provides a dedicated rescue and care service for injured, sick, orphaned, confiscated and abandoned wildlife in Zimbabwe.

The educational team dedicate time to teach children about nature conservation and inspire them to appreciate the wonder and variety of Zimbabwe's indigenous wildlife.

  • Leopard care and husbandry
  • primate feeding and care
  • volunteer hand rearing lion cubs
  • research at Matobo National Par
  • individual recordings on leopard
  • releasing individuals into the wild
  • ecological surveys and behavioural studies
  • dante the lion keeps a watchful eye on volunteers
  • socialistaion for young cubs
  • feeding time
  • community education programmes
  • community environmental education
  • volunteers assist the EPIC programme
  • young genet

Leopard care and husbandry

Volunteers care for a number of carnivores at the centre, including leopards Lundi and Roslyn.

Leopard care and husbandry

primate feeding and care

volunteers feed and hand rear young vervet and samango monkeys, who like to make themselves at home at the base accommodation!

primate feeding and care

volunteer hand rearing lion cubs

lion cubs require 24 hour care and support to develop in a wildlife orphanage. Nutritional development and social needs are closely monitored.

volunteer hand rearing lion cubs

research at Matobo National Par

In collaboration with other conservation bodies, volunteers can assist with leopard behavioural and ecological studies.

research at Matobo National Par

individual recordings on leopard

Volunteers assist with fitting radio collars and recording key measurements including paw diameter and tooth length.

individual recordings on leopard

releasing individuals into the wild

wherever possible, rescued animals and birds are rehabilitated and released back into a wild environment.

releasing individuals into the wild

ecological surveys and behavioural studies

volunteers learn wildlife research skills while working on the leopard and brown hyena research project

ecological surveys and behavioural studies

dante the lion keeps a watchful eye on volunteers

if safe release of animals back into their natural habitat is not possible, due to the nature of their injuries or previous habituations, animals are cared for at the centre by volunteers, including the larger carnivores.

dante the lion keeps a watchful eye on volunteers

socialistaion for young cubs

hand rearing can be very demanding and tiring work, but of course it is also very rewarding, ensuring lion cubs are socialised and enjoy interaction and stimulation in their environment.

socialistaion for young cubs

feeding time

meat is weighed out and recorded at feeding times to ensure the nutritional needs of each animal at the centre is met

feeding time

community education programmes

The Environmental Programmes Involving Children (EPIC ) project at the centre provides an educational resource in Zimbabwe for wildlife conservation education and to inspire children to care for and protect their natural heritage

community education programmes

community environmental education

in 2011, the projects environmental education team reached over 42,000 children with personalised trips to 60 primary schools

community environmental education

volunteers assist the EPIC programme

allowing local children to learn about animals through direct contact builds a sustainable future for the conservation of these species

volunteers assist the EPIC programme

young genet

Volunteers are currently hand rearing a baby genet at the centre, which requires 24 care and support.

young genet

Work with the Wildlife

By joining this dedicated team, you will be trained to work with carnivores, primates, birds of prey, snakes and domestic farm animals.The centre is currently home to lions, leopard, spotted hyena, serval, jackal, mongoose, kudu, steenbok, warthog, mongoose, terrapins, crocodiles, vervet and samango monkeys, baboons, various owl species and two lions cubs and a young genet.

Chipangali is a registered welfare organisation and famed as one of Africa’s largest and most successful rehabilitation and release centres. Due to the nature of the centre, work is responsive to animal’s needs and as such no two days are ever the same!

Wildlife Orphanage and Animal rehabilitation Centre

As a volunteer, your main duties will include:

  • Food preparation and instruction on specialised diets.
  • Feeding animals. Please note some animals such as the crocodiles are fed only by staff for safety reasons.
  • Cleaning out enclosures, including large carnivore enclosures.
  • Assisting with educational tours at the centre for public and local schoolchildren.
  • Hand rearing infant animals, including feeding, socialising and husbandry of enclosures. This is an incredibly rewarding aspect of the placement, but can also require 24 hour care and support.
  • Enrichment for animals.
  • Health and routine vaccinations such as worming programmes are assisted with.

The centre provides a link between local and governmental authorities thus being able to offer assistance to local communities and organisations including the SPCA, National Parks and Nature Conservation, to support and develop the correct management and husbandry of Zimbabwe’s native wildlife.

Wildlife Conservation Research

Wildlife research and studies are carried out to assist in providing observational zoological records on development, nutrition and physiology of captive animals to assist in breeding programmes.

The research unit currently study species behaviour, lactation periods, milk composition and dental development of many antelope and carnivore species including cheetah and brown hyena. Such studies are vital for rare populations to apply directly to wild population conservation. The project also supports field studies in National Parks and protected areas to ensure sustainable protection of local heritage and wildlife.

Leopard and Brown Hyena Research Project

In collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Authority and international partner The Oregon Zoo Conservation Projects, a detailed study of the ecology and behaviour of the leopard and biodiversity survey of the Matobo National Park is currently taking place. The movements and home ranges of radio collared leopard, cheetah and brown hyena are also being studied in several habitats. If you are joining the project for 4 weeks or longer as a volunteer, you will be involved in these studies and enjoy a few days camping in the bush at Matopos National Park as part of your placement.

Community Education

The program also involves extensive community environmental education through its Environmental Programmes Involving Children (EPIC ) project. In 2011, the projects educational team reached out to more than 42,000 children through personalised visits to over 60 primary schools. As a volunteer you are given the opportunity to be involved in the EPIC project, in outreach trips to schools in the Bulawayo region and western suburbs, to inspire future generations to protect and care for these vulnerable species and their habitat.

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Hear from other volunteers who've visited Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage and Research Project

Zombie like from sleep deprivation I arrived at Bulawayo airport, as I was disembarking the plane an... click for more...

Zombie like from sleep deprivation I arrived at Bulawayo airport, as I was disembarking the plane and walking to the temporary shack that is the airport, I noticed the single bulb in ‘arrivals’ spluttered and gave out almost the very instant I passed through the threshold. Welcome to Zimbabwe! I was scooped up by Nicky into an engulfing vortex of welcome. I was immediately struck by her warmth, openness and industry. Bandit was an orphan vervet monkey probably just a week old when he was brought to the centre by a passing couple who’d retrieved him from some children who were carrying his dead mother and him along the highway. When I arrived many of the staff were sick with a horrible respiratory infection, this could potentially transfer to him. Thus this tiny fragile primate was thrust into my care, with the instruction basically to keep him warm and feed him every 3 hours. Initially I felt quite overwhelmed with this responsibility...very day he amazed me with some new developmental feat. The first day he boinged with experimental jumping as opposed to crawling; the day he did his first free flying jump; the day he gained enough confidence to crawl a little away from me to explore first my room, and later the gardens; the day he spontaneously started grooming my hair – with each new milestone I felt an irrational proprietorial pride!

Lucy Marris, Career Break, 2013

I first found out about Chipangali by researching online, I wanted to do something a bit different before I started a graduate job and joined the real world! The experience I had was exactly what I was looking for and so much more. Chipangali is is an amazing mix of fantastic people, fantastic animals and a fantastic atmosphere that made every day exciting and like nothing I have experienced before. When I first arrived at the family home at Chipangali after a long flight from the UK, I was met by a tiny lion cub just wandering around the kitchen. His name was Dashian and he was a 4 week old lion cub... During my time at Chipangali, I would have the chance to babysit Dashian many times and he would often sleep in my bed, or I’d take him for a walk or feed him his milk from the bottle. I absolutely loved him and he was very hard to say goodbye to! Dashian is only one of the many incredible animals that feature at Chipangali...a tiny baby stiernbuck was brought in by a local man who had found it, I was given the responsibility of caring for him and ensuring he grew nice and strong. I helped make a new home for him and fed him his bottle twice a day. This was a really wonderful experience as you could watch his progress. Alongside the animals, I would also like to stress how warm and welcoming the entire Wilson family are, they made me feel so at home and I have very fond memories of them. They are a great family who do some wonderful work and I am very grateful to them for making my experience so enjoyable. Chipangali was a truly amazing experience and one I shall always remember, it is like nothing I have ever seen before and I could not recommend it highly enough and I am hoping to go back in the not too distant future!

Rebecca Cherry

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Your placement cost includes return flights and carbon offsets (if selected), return transfers from Johannesburg Airport to your project, all accommodation, meals (at most projects), transfers between projects if you are volunteering at more than one project, the 24 hour support of our South African ground manager, ACE T-Shirts, and, of course, the contributions to the projects, without which they could not operate. Read more about the costs, where your money goes and financing your volunteering placement here