(WILDLIFE CONSERVATION/POACHING) SOUTH AFRICA — Wildlife conservationist Wayne Lotter was recently shot and killed in Tanzania, where he dedicated his life to putting an end to poaching and the illegal ivory trade.
Tanzanian law enforcement has launched an investigation into his death, and while it’s unclear whether Lotter was killed as a result of his work, there’s mounting evidence that fowl play was involved.
Violent crime surrounding animal conservation is an increasingly dire situation as ivory prices soar. In the past decade, over 1,000 park rangers have been killed all over the world–80 percent of whom were murdered by commercial poachers and armed militia groups.
Lotter was one of Africa’s most committed conservationists and there’s no doubt his anti-poaching efforts saved countless elephants from the illegal ivory trade. As poaching has become more militarized, we must continue fighting for wildlife to ensure that not only Lotter’s legacy survives, but that his conservation efforts are doubled.
Read on to learn more about Lotter’s work, and the unruly militarization of the poaching industry. — Global Animal
New York Times, Christine Hauser
Wayne Lotter, a wildlife conservationist from South Africa, was fatally shot this week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where he had worked to stop poaching and the illegal ivory trade, the organization he helped found said.
Mr. Lotter was killed in a district of the east African country’s capital late on Wednesday, the PAMS Foundation said in its statement on Facebook on Thursday. It said the police in Tanzania were investigating. A report in The Guardian said that Mr. Lotter, 51, was being driven from the airport to his hotel when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. Two men opened the door to his car, and one of them shot him, the newspaper reported.
It was not immediately clear from investigators whether Mr. Lotter was killed because of his work. He was one of the founders in 2009 of the PAMS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports antipoaching efforts in Tanzania through the country’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit, which has been at the forefront in combating poachers and arresting suspects.
Mr. Lotter worked as a ranger as a young man in South Africa before he moved to Tanzania, where he became a leading force in the fight against poaching, the foundation said. It said his work included training village game scouts in every corner of the country, as part of his belief that “communities were the best protectors of the continent’s animals.”
Conservationists mourned his death. Jane Goodall, who ventured into the Tanzanian wilderness half a century ago to conduct groundbreaking research on chimpanzees, said in a statement on her foundation’s website on Friday that Mr. Lotter was “a hero of mine, a hero to many.”
“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,” Dr. Goodall wrote. “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,” she added.
— JaneGoodallInstitute (@JaneGoodallInst) August 18, 2017
Over the years, poaching has become more militarized as prices for ivory soar. The Tanzanian Serious Crimes investigation unit has arrested high-profile suspects, including Yang Feng Glan, a Chinese woman whom Tanzanian officials call “the ivory queen” responsible for exporting thousands of tons of ivory to China. She has denied the charges, a Reuters report said.
The N.T.S.C.I.U. arrested 1,398 poachers and ivory traffickers with the support of the PAMS Foundation, said the Elephant Crisis Fund, which said Mr. Lotter was a “powerful force taking on the Tanzanian ivory trafficking cartels.”
Tanzania’s elephant population declined because of poaching to 43,000 in 2014 from 109,000 in 2009.
Mr. Lotter had spoken of the risk of fighting poachers. After a pilot was shot dead during a search for signs of poaching near Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park last year, Mr. Lotter told The Times: “The more you go after them, the more situations where confrontation between poachers and rangers will take place. There are going to be risks.”
Mr. Lotter is survived by his wife, Inge; his daughters, Cara Jayne and Tamsin; and his parents, Vera and Charles Lotter, according to the foundation.
Azzedine Downes, the president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said in a statement that Africa had lost one of its most committed conservationists. But he also said Mr. Lotter had a sense of humor that was “second to none.”
At a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species last year, colleagues teased Mr. Lotter because it was the first time they had seen him wearing a tie.
“His response,” Mr. Downes wrote, “was to arrive for a meeting at our International Headquarters in Washington, D.C., wearing two ties, one around his neck and the other on his head.”
More New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/world/africa/elephant-poachers-wayne-lotter.html