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Our History

The Birth of Bambelela
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Bambelela Wildlife Care and Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation Facility

The Bambelela Wildlife Care and Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation Facility is located 20km out of Bela Bela in Limpopo, South Africa. Silke von Eynern, the founder and major benefactor of the facility originally immigrated to South Africa from Germany in 1990 with her late husband. After his death in 1997 she decided to dedicate her life and savings towards the care and conservation of South African Wildlife and so Bambelela (which means “to hold on” in Zulu) came into being in 2003.

From that rocky start, she began taking over the care of animals from Moholoholo that were almost ready for release back into the wild and in doing so, recognized her true calling: to help wild animals in need. People from the Waterberg district learned of their work and started to call upon Bambelela for help, as did the veterinarians from the region.

They became well known and well regarded as a Rehabilitation Centre and have successfully rehabilitated and released many species of antelope, including Eland, Kudu, Impala, Red Hartebeest, Nyala, Steenbok, Blue Wildebeest, Warthogs, Bush Pigs, Serval Cats, Zebra, Yellow-Billed Kites, Black-Back Jackals, Porcupines, Lion Cubs, Caracals and many more. They even had the pleasure of looking after an orphaned Rhino baby in 2009, who is now an adult living free.

Then, by chance, in 2005, Silke’s heart was touched by a Vervet monkey.

It was found abandoned in a cage on a property outside Bela, which was for sale. The owners had already departed, so the estate agent brought the young, female Vervet to Bambelela. The female was named “Rafiki” and her face graces Bambelela’s logo. Rafiki was Alpha of her troop, built from other rescues and orphaned babies. Rafiki’s Troop is living free since November 2010 at Thandile Nature Reserve in the Waterberg.

The spark of interest in Primatology was ignited! Silke began her quest for knowledge about these special creatures, how to hand-raise them, how to build appropriate enclosures or camps for them, how to feed them, and how to prepare them for release back into the wild. She is exceedingly grateful to the late Rita Miljo, founder of C.A.R.E., the baboon rehabilitation centre in Phalaborwa, for her mentorship all along the way.

Bambelela is now home to over 200 Vervet monkeys, necessitating a team of FGASA students, field guides, interns and volunteers from around the world to join Silke in her work with these monkeys and all the other wildlife that comes to Bambelela for rehabilitation. They work in close collaboration with Veterinarians from our local Vet Clinics in Bela Bela and Modimolle. Bambelela also functions as a transfer station for orphaned or injured baboons in the Waterberg district and generally still assists with all wildlife in need of rescue.

Troops of Monkeys

Vervet Monekeys

Chacma Baboons

Lesser Bush Baby


Bambelela Rescues, Rehabilitates, & Releases members of three of our five South African Primate families:

The Lesser bush baby,
Chacma Baboon and
Vervet Monkey.

Silke and her incredible team of staff & volunteers

We concentrate mainly on Vervet monkey rehabilitation, taking in injured and orphaned monkeys, forming troops and finding monkey friendly game farms to release a rehabilitated troop. Rehabilitation takes usually a minimum of 3-4 years, but it could be longer depending on the damage done to the monkeys [especially ex-pets]. To date they have successfully given 29 troops, a total of over 1000 monkeys, their second chance to live free again after, as a persecuted species, they had lost their freedom due to habitat destruction, illegal shootings by farmers, snares, electrocutions, motor vehicle accidents, pet or muti trade.