Rita Miljo, founder of C.A.R.E. – Tribute from IFAW
IFAW has learned with sorrow of the tragic passing of Rita Miljo, founder of the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E.), a devoted and tireless champion for the cause of baboons in South Africa and primates around the world.
Mrs Miljo died in a fire that devastated C.A.R.E.’s premises near Phalaborwa, in the Northern Province on Friday, killing her and her dear “friend’ Bobby, a female Chacma baboon she rescued in Namibia in the late 1980s. Bobby was the inspiration for Mrs Miljo starting C.A.R.E. Three more baboons also died in the blaze.
“Just recently, Rita joked that she and Bobby had retired together. She had moved Bobby in to share her quarters saying they would live out their final years together,” says Cora Bailey, IFAW Companion Animal Advisor and one of Mrs Miljo’s closest friends.
Jason Bell, IFAW Director Southern Africa, sent his sympathy and support to C.A.R.E. “Rita Miljo was a champion for baboons, a maligned and poorly treated species in South Africa. She was fearless and feisty and took on the authorities whenever necessary to defend baboons from persecution. The animal welfare community will be much the poorer for her passing,” said Bell.
C.A.R.E. was established by Mrs Miljo in 1989 as a rehabilitation centre for injured indigenous wildlife. Initially caring for diverse small mammals, Mrs Miljo became expert in nurturing baboons which became the main focus of C.A.R.E.’s work. She developed a method to integrate the animals into new troops that could be successfully released into the wild.