We have rescued over 750 vervet monkeys and baboons since 2002, from the illegal exotic pet trade in Zambia and those injured or orphaned through the actions of humans. This includes illegal snaring by poachers for bush meat and the persecution and stoning of primates in local communities where they are often perceived as pests.

The primates are rescued by our team from hotspot areas across Zambia, in collaboration with officers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) and Zambia Police, following intelligence received by ZPP from our national network of local informers and concerned members of the public. Some of the primates we rescue are given up willingly, whilst others are hostile confiscations.

Villages and Compounds

Vervet monkeys and baboons are killed, often by stoning them, when they compete for food with humans. They are seen as pests when they raid local people's crops and fruit trees. Many others are killed by poachers to eat or trade as bush meat. When an adult female with a baby is killed and her baby survives, the small, dependant primate is often kept as a household pet, sold into the illegal pet trade for money or kept as an attraction by local business owners. As the babies grows they become difficult to handle and start to bite and try to escape their captivity. It is at this point that these captive primates are chained and caged for the rest of their lives.

See more images Rescue - Villages and Compounds here

Chains and Ropes

Various materials are used to tether the captive primates (chains, rope, wire and belts), most often fastened around their waist but sometimes around their neck or wrist. The tethers are short allowing very restrictive movement, confining the monkey to a small patch of ground or to a tree. As the primate grows and becomes even more difficult to handle, the belt or chain is never expanded. We have seen some terrible injuries resulting from tethering. All injuries sustained are treated and healed during rehabilitation. Sadly, many primates die in captivity as the tightness of their tether means their bowels cannot pass food, enduring a slow and painful death.

See more images Rescue - Chains and Ropes here - Graphic Warning


Cages are used as an alternative to tethering, these coming in many different forms and sizes. Very often these cages are locked away within dark outhouses to avoid detection by the authorities. Sometimes the primates we rescue have actually been chained up within their cage. Others we have found chained up inside derelict vehicles which serve as their cage. These primates are isolated from the outside world, kept in cramped dark conditions, with little or no social interaction with their 'owners'. Once caged the monkey is confined there for life - unless we are tipped off and rescue them.

See more images - Rescue - Cages here

Social Isolation

Monkeys and baboons are extremely social animals. It is unnatural for them to live on their own. In the wild females stay in the troop they are born into for life, whilst males join with other males or integrate themselves into neighbouring troops as they mature.  The psychological trauma the primates we rescue have suffered in enforced isolation in captivity begins to be overcome during the rehabilitation phase when each rescued primate is integrated into a new family troop with other rescues and is completed when they are released back to the wild and are totally free.

Poor Nutrition

Primates have a very varied diet in the wild. After weaning, they are predominately herbivores, but do eat eggs, insects and small mammals occasionally too. Their main diet consists of seasonal fruits and berries, leaves and shoots, roots and tubers, nuts and grains all foraged from within their range territory. Once in captivity their diet is nutritionally inadequate. Those we rescue have mainly been fed on nshima (the local staple food - a pap made from maize flour) and scraps of human leftovers - causing malnutrition, stunted growth, decaying teeth and a range of other health issues. Very often they do not have ready access to water and are found severely dehydrated.


In Zambia it is illegal to kill, eat, buy, sell or keep primates as pets. People found keeping primates illegally as pets will be arrested and prosecuted.

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