Every year, dozens of rhinos and elephants in Namibia are severely abused or killed for their horns and tusks. While authorities are being given more resources and powers to crack down on poachers, the problem is bigger than Namibia itself - it's international. The ivory-trade business brings in big cash. Illegal transactions are happening everyday. Animal experts everywhere are worried about what this could mean for the future of these beautiful creatures.
This is why the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary is so important.
It's named after 11-year-old Shiloh Jolie-Pitt who was born in Namibia (side note: remember all that CRAZINESS?? The arrival of the world's "most genetically blessed baby" was causing such an international media frenzy, Brad and Angelina ended up selling the first photos of Shiloh for US$4.1million to People Magazine and donating all the money to benefit African children.) and she recently returned to her birthplace with her famous mum for the sanctuary's opening.
The Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary is being used to rehabilitate animals that have been abused or fallen victim to poaching. It has specialised equipment, large holding pens and a full-time vet on-site.
Dr Rudie van Vuuren, founder of the N/a'an ku sê Foundation which operates the Sanctuary, says "animals are usually injured in poaching incidents. So, it can be an adult with gunshot wounds, or a calf whose mother has been shot."
Once they have recovered and are strong enough to live in the wild, the rhinos and elephants are set free again.
Poaching is a huge problem in Namibia. The figures are sketchy but local media and government agencies have managed to put together some numbers -
Dr van Vuuren agrees the problem is huge but believes the Shiloh Wildlife Sanctuary, being the first facility of its kind to focus on rehabilitation after poaching incidents, will save the lives of many animals. He says, "last year, 5 rhinos died because no care was possible."
If you'd like to help Dr Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren continue their amazing work, you can make a donation to the N/a'an ku sê Foundation here.