Top elephant conservationist shot dead in Tanzania, say colleagues

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A leading conservationist who had worked hard to bring down notorious elephant poachers and stop ivory-trafficking, has been shot dead in Tanzania, his PAMS foundation has said. “We are heartbroken to share the news that PAMS Foundation co-founder, Wayne Lotter was shot and killed last night (Wednesday) in the Masaki District of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,” read a statement. The motive for the killing of the South African was unknown.

British primatologist and renowned environmentalist Jane Goodall described Lotter as her “hero”, a man who had faced “stiff opposition and personal threats” in his bid to protect Tanzania’s wildlife. PAMS finances Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) which has scored some massive successes in recent years, arresting nearly 900 poachers and illegal ivory traders. These include Chinese citizen Yang Fenlan known as the “Ivory Queen”, who is currently on trial in Tanzania for illegally trafficking 706 elephant tusks between 2000 and 2014.

In March Tanzania’s most notorious poacher, Boniface Matthew Maliango, commonly known as ‘The Devil’ was handed a 12-year prison sentence after his 2015 arrest by the NTSCIU. “There is no doubt in my mind but that Wayne’s anti poaching efforts made a big difference in the fight to save Tanzania’s elephants from the illegal ivory trade,” said Goodall.

Tanzania has been one of the worst hit by elephant poaching, losing over 66,000 elephants in the last decade, however PAMS believes there has been a “dramatic reduction” in such poaching since November 2014. “Wayne passionately believed in the importance of involving local communities in the protection of wildlife, and through his work with PAMS he helped train hundreds of village game scouts in many parts of the country,” said Goodall. “As a result he gained the support of many of the local people, but inevitably faced strong opposition from dealers and many high level government officials.”

Tanzanian police have launched an investigation into his death. “If this cowardly shooting was an attempt to bring the work of the PAMS Foundation to an end it will fail,” said Goodall.

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