Tanzanian NGO Director's murder a grave blow to global conservation

2017-08-21 08:23 - Lindy Taverner
Post a comment 0

Istock Photo

Dar es Salaam - Wayne Lotter’s life mission was to protect elephants and dismantle the illegal ivory market. He had known for some time that he was a target. Wealthy people in high places that had benefited for decades from the poaching of illegal wildlife in Tanzania were very angry. Despite the danger - he bravely chose to continue to fight ‘the war’ as he always called it. He was tragically murdered during the week of the 18 August of  in a ‘hit’ that police are investigating.

READ: #ShockingWildlifeTruths: Elephant poaching is on the rise in the Kruger

'Assassinated for work in the war against poaching'

When Wayne entered a room, he always did so silently, assessing the situation, deciding on his strategy and then pouncing on his target.  He was hence often referred to as ‘the Leopard’. He stayed in the shadows, rarely taking credit for the powerful influence he has made to reduce poaching in Tanzania.  He always praised and acknowledged the agencies and communities he worked with for their involvement.

Lotter could always be relied upon as the voice of the reason and the person one could turn to if you wanted to know the truth about any situation. The media is ripe with falsities, fabricated  or exaggerated stories of conservation. The wrong people often receive or even take credit for work done quietly by others. Lotter had the uncanny ability to pick out the deception and recognize the nonsense.  He rose above it rather than focus on the negativity and remained focused instead on his mission, His mission was to work collaboratively with others to create a world where communities worked alongside conservation organizations to protect wildlife.

Lotter championed the increased integration of controlled intelligence-led strategies into anti-poaching operations. He can be credited for helping to arrest thousands of poachers and traffickers over the years. The overwhelming support from conservationists around the world attests to the impact he made.


Members of the conservation community pay homage to Lotter

“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,” said Dr. Jane Goodall in her tribute to him.

READ: #WorldRangerDay 2017: SANParks salutes rangers who risk their lives to save our heritage

”We don't have words to express our grief at the thought of losing a conservation hero like Wayne. We will miss you. Thank you for touching our lives and sharing your great spirit with us and the people of Africa. Thank you for setting an example that few can follow when it comes to protecting wildlife. Elephants Alive will always remember you,” shared Michelle Henley, co-founder, manager and principal researcher for Elephant Alive - an non profit organization that PAMS Foundation works closely with in South Africa and Mozambique. 

Dr. Hayley Adams, Director of the Silent Heroes Foundation says, “Wayne was a kind and humble man, with a terrific sense of humor nature despite the gravity of his work, and a charm that put others at ease. He was generous in sharing his knowledge and insight, and it was an honor to work in human-elephant conflict mitigation along with Tanzanian organizations like PAMS. I admired him for his ability to pursue his passion with a bravery most of us only see in the movies, despite knowledge of the danger he faced daily. His approach was comprehensive, working side by side with local communities in Tanzania, as well as bringing criminals to justice by working with government officials.  He was successful precisely because of his character—he was dedicated, unwavering, and passionate about conservation. He was the true embodiment of a Silent Hero—dedicated to the cause, working tirelessly as a guardian of wildlife, and yet never asking for recognition. The world has lost a great conservation hero. We have all been blessed by his legacy.”

The role that Lotter played within the conservation community was one that was highly revered upon - he had made a pivotal difference in the community. 

The Wildcat Foundation is one of the principal donors to PAMS Foundation. Rodger Schlickeisen, Executive Director, comments, “The killing of Wayne Lotter has robbed Tanzania and Africa of one of its most important wildlife conservationists.  At a time when rampant poaching of elephant, rhino and other wildlife threatens the very existence of some of the world’s truly iconic species, Wayne was one of the most determined, fearless and effective professionals working to protect them.  The innovative PAMS/NTSCIU public-private partnership he helped create and so strongly supported transformed Tanzania into a leader in wildlife anti-trafficking law enforcement, and became a model he was busy helping other countries to emulate.”

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants states, “Wayne had a rare ability to find functional branches of law enforcement in a country where corruption has flourished, and to pursue justice for wildlife with little apparent concern for his own life. He enabled those with integrity and helped them succeed.  His loss is a grave blow to the defense of the living planet.”

READ:#WorldElephantDay:Don't let them dissappear 

Douglas-Hamilton continues, “Now it’s imperative that the good work that Wayne and his colleagues did is supported to the hilt. We must not turn away, but instead bolster the team that he established and make sure they are properly supported politically, financially and morally to succeed in their mission to end the killing.”

PAMS will continue to work in its effort to restore its mission and the natural habitat for the wild life as Krisse Clark, the co-founder and director vows, "This will not stop PAMS' work in Tanzania. We will contirnue with out education programmes and providing support and trainign to the thousands of rangers and game scouts we work with across the country. We will continue to fight and finish what Wayne started". 

It is important to acknowledge those invovled in conservation efforts as they are helping to sustain the heritage of the world - through preventing animal poaching and maintaining that the environment is well taken care of. 

READ: When and elephant says: Enough is enough

What to read next on Traveller24: 

- #ShockingWildlifeTruths: SA tourism industry urged to commit to help curb 'exploitative wildlife practises'

- #ShockingWildlifeTruths: 'Self defence' leopard kill in Eastern Cape charged as illegal hunt

- July the world's 2nd warmest month on record, breaks record for Africa