ONCA Wildlife Sanctuary

Working with indigenous communities for conservation

Rurrenabaque, Bolivia, South America
We are an NGO working in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation with the indigenous communities of the area. We respect that they are the bearers of an ancient wisdom that remains untainted from the technology, consumerism, and materialism of Western society.

Volunteering Activities

Animal Care
Conservation Work

What We Need

The work can be Split into five basic categories:
1. Primate work
2. Feline work
3. Infrastructure work
4. Maintenance
5. Cleaning and living together

Primate work

The work principally involves cleaning cages and organizing enrichment to be able to feed the monkeys without directly handing them the food.
We give you 2 days to decide if you want to stay, after these 2 days you must pay either 700Bs to work with the Spider monkeys, or 1050Bs to work with the Capuchin monkeys. The deposit is non refundable.

Spider monkeys & Howler monkeys– Minimum two weeks
People who are staying for two weeks will be able to work with the spider monkeys and howler monkeys. The tasks will be cleaning cages and making enrichment. In addition, you may be asked to observe the monkeys, feed the monkeys, give milk to babies and in some special cases, walking with them on trails and help untangle or move monkeys.

Capuchin monkeys – Minimum three weeks
The majority of the work for people who are staying three weeks and are working with the capuchin monkeys is the same, i.e. cleaning cages & making enrichment. In addition, you may be asked to observe the monkeys, feed the monkeys, give milk to babies and in some special cases, walking with them on trails and help untangle or move monkeys.

Remember It is not guaranteed that you will work wherever you want to work. We will place you to work wherever we need you at the time and where it is the most suitable match for each species of the monkeys.

Feline work

To help with the Margay or the Ocelot you need to stay for at least four weeks. To work with the Jaguar you must stay at least five weeks. This is to avoid the cats getting used to seeing new people each day and avoid the staff having to train new people each day.
In addition, to work with the Margay or Ocelot you must pay the 1400Bs deposit before you start working with them.
To work with the Jaguar you must pay the 1750Bs deposit before you start working with her.

This is to encourage the people to finish their one-month period and not to decide to leave early because it may be challenging. Cats need routine much more than the monkeys do, and it stresses them to meet new people often. The meat for these animals is very expensive so it is another way for us to make sure we can buy their food for the month.

Jaguar – Minimum five weeks
You will be working and walking with Kali on her trails every day for five weeks(unless we have enough people to be able to make turns or you are needed somewhere else). This is a five week commitment to one animal. It is a rare and very rewarding opportunity.
There will always be at least two people walking with Kali, and training usually takes one week.

Margay – Minimum one month
You will work and walk with Hekate on her trails for the whole day, but on other days also work with the other animals if you are needed. After training, you can walk with Hekate alone on her trails. Training usually takes 3 days

Ocelot – Minimum one month
You will work and walk with the ocelot on his trails for the whole day, but on other days also work with the other animals if you are needed. After training, you can walk with him alone on his trails. Training usually takes up to 4 days

Community work

The community work is varied and depends on the needs of the community. We spent a large part of 2016 helping carry sand and rocks for the new houses that were built with the aid of the government to help the community following the flood of 2013, where many families lost their homes.

Alongside this we have helped with education projects, agriculture, tourism to name but a few. This work is unpredictable but always highly appreciated. There is no guarantee that the possibility of community work is available.

Infrastructure work

All the infrastructure has been built with the help of volunteers. This can be anything from working alongside indigenous professionals like Mario to construct buildings or cages, to small projects using the expertise of volunteers to improve the facilities.

Often this work will involve using local building methods and sustainable resources from the jungle, giving volunteers a chance to learn some of the techniques that have sustained people’s way of life here in the Amazon.


One of the most important aspects of the work here is the general maintenance of the huts and local area which includes the following work, although these jobs change frequently depending upon need:
• Sharpen the machetes
• Clear spaces around the house and paths with machetes
• Move organic rubbish ready for burning or into the chicken coup
• Collect fruit that has fallen for animals and humans
• Repairing anything that breaks!

Cleaning and living together

For everyone to live together in a communal project such as we require that everyone helps out with the daily and weekly chores that need to be done

When & Who

All year round!
Yes, we require a minimum of 2 Weeks
No maximum stay, but the longer the intended stay the more priority we will give to your application.

What we Provide

Volunteer House

We food and accommodation is included in the cost, as well as solar power, gas, petrol, and cleaning products.

For the vet position, if you are willing to stay for at least one month, after approval, we will cover all the expenses related to your commitment with us after the first week (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and accommodation).

Variety, Vegetarian, Vegan

Gluten free is almost impossible, but food for vegans and vegetarians is no problem.

Three meals are provided -- breakfast, a simple lunch, and a good dinner.

The fruit lovers are lucky, as our camp has all kinds of fruit throughout the year apart from August to October (only coconut then and avocado).

First Aid

Our Fees



No reviews yet.

More Services we Offer

May have additional fees
Pick Up/Drop Off

We have a tiny shop for snacks and beers, as we live isolated... therefore, people can still have their "extra stuff"
that's not included in food.

Contact Person

Rio beni upstream 15min, Rurrenabaque, Bolivia.
88% response rate

Other Ways to Help

You will need a flashlight and maybe gumboots.

We will really appreciate any veterinary supplies like collars, medicines, etc.

Additional Info about Us

Up to 5 people

Take care of the whole place and volunteer training with animals


Before contact with us we want to make sure the people will understand a few really IMPORTANT things about working with us... so keep reading.

Maybe we are going to be a bit too straight-forward, too strong in this next lines... but at the end of the day it is going to be better for both us and the coming volunteer. We know that we might lose loads of requests because of this, but that is actually our goal, as we only want to receive people who know in their hearts that they are ready for this experience.

We are NOT a business. We are an organisation that fights for a big dream.

We do not earn a single cent from visitors and therefore volunteers shouldn't expect to be waited on. We are not going to take care of your garbage, your mess, or your hangovers (extreme party people won't have a good time here, though we do party almost every Saturday). We are not going to clean your bed or dishes. Everyone is responsible for their chores.

We need ENTHUSIASTIC volunteers who want to do something different, help an amazing non-lucrative NGO, and at the same time learn a lot of stuff about what it is like living in the JUNGLE.

NO ILLEGAL drugs allowed here. Tobacco, alcohol, and coca are okay, as they are legal. No marihuana or cocaine...

This is a jungle environment. Jobs can be quite dirty, muddy (don't pretend to have your trekking boots as clean as when you bought them), dirty clothes almost every day, hot and really humid... mosquitoes, tarantulas in your room... perfect for adventure souls... city people that needs everything shiny and their nails clean won't enjoy here at all...

But the wild souls definitely will love it!

Rainy season is a bit harder... This is from January to March.

We promote action on welfare, animal conservation, and preservation. Our objective is to create a custody and management centre for wildlife rehabilitation. We support indigenous communities, as well as governmental and non-governmental institutions in the development and implementation of conservationist projects.

We also promote and advice organisations in the development and evaluation of cultural and conservationist programs being respectful of the native traditions. We strive to develop transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary training programs to indigenous people and public officials from the area.

We want to thank you for considering collaborating with us as a volunteer. Our ambitious journey will never come to a successful conclusion unless it has the support of people like you; people who share our ideals. ONCA is taking its first steps and the workflow is not completely structured. This initial volunteering is distinguished by an unwavering willingness to face the daily reality of strengthening the operational foundations of the organisation.

We do not require a lot of time working since the rustic camp conditions could become difficult for volunteers unaccustomed to the environment of the Bolivian Amazon.

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