An anti-poaching activist who stared down threats to her personal safety was killed last week by unknown gunmen in the Masaki District of Dar es Salaam.
Wayne Lotter devoted his life to Africa’s wildlife. He began working as a ranger in his native South Africa as a young man. Later on, he led the charge against poaching in Tanzania, teaming up in 2009 to form the PAMS Foundation with Krissie Clark and Ally Namagaya.
Through PAMS, Lotter helped train hundreds of village game scouts through Tanzania, developing a ground-breaking intelligence-based approach to anti-poaching. The use of local intelligences helped successfully reverse the rampant rates of poaching, and he helped to dismantle some of the most important ivory trafficking syndicates in Africa.
His friends say that although Lotter knew his personal safety was at risk, he never back down from a fight. Lotter was killed as he was being driven from the airport to his hotel. The taxi he was in was stopped by another vehicle. Two men jumped out, one was armed with a gun and opened the car door and shot the wildlife conservationist.
The news of his death has sent shockwaves throughout the conservation community with tributes pouring in.
Jane Goodall wrote on her website that Lotter was a tireless advocate for animals. At the time Goodall first met Lotter, the elephant poaching crisis was at its worst in the Ruaha National Park. Goodall said powerful vested interests were even back then trying to blacken Lotter’s name and close down the PAMS Foundation. Goodall was asked to bring the issue to the attention of people who could help him fight the allegations against him including the American Embassy. Eventually, Lotter’s good name and the reputation of PAMS was salvaged.
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. 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. He also worked to develop an intelligence-based approach to anti-poaching that undoubtedly helped to reduce the shocking level of elephant slaughter in Tanzania.
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. Moreover, his courage in the face of stiff opposition and personal threats, and his determination to keep on fighting has inspired many and encouraged them also to keep fighting for wildlife.
If this cowardly shooting was an attempt to bring the work of the PAMS Foundation to an end it will fail. Those who have been inspired by Wayne will fight on. But he will be sadly missed by so many. My heart goes out to Krissie, his family and all who have been privileged to know and work with him.
A trust called the Wayne Legacy has been set up to immediately help financially support his family and pay for costs associated with his death, including relocating his body to his native South Africa and holding a funeral so his family may say goodbye.
Lotter leaves behind his wife Inge, twin daughters Cara Jayne and Tamsin, and parents Vera and Charles Lotter who all live in South Africa.
Police have made no arrests in Lotter’s murder.