Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Returning Rescued Primates Back to the Wild


Established by and with on-going support of the Born Free Foundation, the GRI - Zambia Primate Project (ZPP) is one of Africa’s most established and successful primate release programmes. Its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and illegally held vervet monkeys and yellow baboons for release back to the wild. Primate survival rate 6 months post release currently averages a remarkable 95%.

In May 2015, Born Free arranged for Game Rangers International (GRI) , a highly respected and growing Zambian registered conservation and animal welfare NGO,  to absorb ZPP into its portfolio of projects. This was to strengthen the Project’s management on the ground in Zambia and to ensure its long term sustainability.

To see what ZPP is about view this stunning video filmed when ZPP Project Manager Cosmas Mumba was a finalist in the Tusk Conservation Awards.


Photo (c) ZPP
Orphaned baboon Betty, who was released back into the wild by ZPP in 2014 (c)ZPP

The great majority of primates that ZPP rescues are victims of the growing bushmeat trade in Zambia. The mothers are slaughtered for their meat, and their babies sold into the illegal pet trade.  As the babies grow and develop sharp canine teeth they are held captive using short, tight ropes tied around their waists and tormented and harassed by people and village dogs. Others are found injured in poachers’ wire snares or stoned when they come into conflict with people in the villages.

Photo ZPP
Confiscation of bushmeat including primates (c)ZPP

Dr Cheryl Mvula, ZPP Senior Technical Advisor, says “Our project is achieving outstanding success in returning rescued ex captive primates back to the wild. All but one of our 2013 vervet release troop survived 6 months post release, which is really heartening.

This is due to the lessons we have learnt releasing these primates over the last decade and the dedication and commitment of our local field team. The predator avoidance training we pioneered has also played a crucial role, as many of the primates were taken by leopard or birds of prey in the early years. For snakes we build mock termite mounds in their rehab enclosure, which in the wild are often used by primates as feeding stations and lookout points, and insert mildly electrified wooden snakes into holes within the mound. The primates soon learn that snakes are not to be played with!”

Photo ZPP
A rescued vervet monkey back in the wild (c)ZPP


We have just received an update from our friends and partners at the GRI-Zambia Primate Project.

Since the most recent vervet monkey release in Kafue National Park in February, there have been dramas, breakups and new arrivals. Read more about the troops trials and successes here in the 2016 2nd 1/4ly report

Read more about ZPP's Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release work

How you can get involved

Donate: You could offer the project financial support in the form of a donation towards its rescue, rehabilitation, release and anti-poaching activities or contribute towards a much needed replacement project vehicle.

Wish List: You could donate or sponsor essential kit (new or second-hand) on the project’s wish list.

Volunteer: You could volunteer to work on the project out in Zambia. Placements are available for 1, 2 or 3 months. A volunteer fee is payable which covers the cost of your placement along with a contribution towards the project’s operating costs. Please contact the project’s Senior Technical Advisor Dr. Cheryl Mvula:

Photo (c)ZPP
Photo (c)ZPP

How You Can Help

If you would like to offer the project support in the form of a donation towards its anti-poaching patrols or field operations, to sponsor essential kit (new or second-hand) on the project team’s ‘wish list’ e.g. vehicle tyres, laptop, digital camera, video camera, 2-way radios, or to volunteer to work on the project (1 - 3 month placements are available in Zambia) please contact the project’s Senior Scientific Director Dr. Cheryl Mvula:

ZPP Supporters

The Born Free Foundation, who established the project and have been a major sponsor since 2002, funds the rescues, rehabilitation, anti-poaching and annual release programmes.

Other key international sponsors include the Humane Society International Australia, the Animal Defence Trust and Worldwide Veterinary Service and the Olsen Animal Trust.. Local sponsors and supporters in Zambia include the Blue Lagoon Trust who donate the use of their truck to transport rescued primates to the release site, Chipembele Wildife Education Trust, and Fruit & Veg City who provide out of date produce to supplement the primates’ diet during their rehabilitation. An integral member of the ZPP team is Zambia Wildlife Authority who have provided active support, encouragement and guidance to the project since its inception.

*Formerly the Lunga Luswishi Wildlife Project (LLWP)

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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