August 16, Wayne Lotter was shot and killed in the Masaki District of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania by unknown gunmen.
Lotter was stopped and then fatally shot while travelling by taxi from Dar es Salaam airport to a hotel. He had been working in Tanzania for many years, exposing and jailing wildlife poachers and traffickers, and he had received a number of death threats.
Tanzania’s director for criminal investigation, Robert Boaz, said a murder investigation was underway.
A ‘shining light’ in the conservation world
Both Lotter and Clark have worked in wildlife conservation for decades. Inspired by their mutual passion for Africa’s wildlife, and appalled by the devastation they saw poaching wreaking across the continent, Lotter and Clark founded PAMS as a small, nimble NGO, that they hoped would be able to have the maximum amount of impact. They train wildlife rangers, sponsor education initiatives and after-school wildlife clubs and work with farmers. They also work with law enforcers, with police and with a special taskforce, to identify poachers and trafficking networks, and then to get them into court and through the Tanzanian legal system. PAMS has earned a global reputation as a NGO that punches well above its size; tough, committed and effective.
The nonprofit uses a multifaceted approach to conservation pioneered by Lotter that saw the group train hundreds of wildlife rangers across Tanzania and sponsored several education initiatives and after school wildlife clubs in dozens of schools in areas where poaching was rampant. The group also worked with farmers in several areas to reduce human wildlife conflict.
Tributes to Lotter have poured in from all corners of the world. In an obituary posted online by primatologist Jane Goodall, she praised Lotter for his work. “Wayne was a hero of mine, a hero to many, someone who devoted his life to protecting Africa’s wildlife,” she wrote. “There is no doubt in my mind that Wayne’s anti poaching efforts made a big difference in the fight to save Tanzania’s elephants from the illegal
Conservationists have long warned of the existential danger that poachers pose to Africa’s elephants. And it’s in Tanzania, home of the Serengeti game reserve and one of the world’s two largest elephant populations, that the scale of the killings and the involvement of government employees may be the most chilling.
Twenty-four elephants were shot within 10 square miles over the last three months. Thirty miles from here there are another 26 carcasses,” said Patel, a safari tour operator trying to raise the alarm about the country’s dying elephants. “And this is just a teaser. If we go to southern Tanzania I can show you 70 carcasses in one day,” he said, referring to the Selous, the world’s largest game reserve.
The man tasked with saving Tanzania’s elephants is Khamis Suedi Kagasheki, minister for natural resources and tourism. Patel believes Kagasheki, a former intelligence officer, is trying hard to beat the poachers, but is up against a government cabal unwilling to give up illegal profits.
About 70 years ago, up to 5 million elephants are believed to have roamed sub-Saharan Africa. Today fewer than a million remain. Much of the harvested ivory ends up as small trinkets.
A CITES-led project that monitors about 40 percent of Africa’s elephant population estimated that 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in 2011 and that the 2012 number was probably the same or more.
Similarly, Sri Lanka also has a human-elephant conflict.
it is reported that at the beginning of the 19th century there were 19,500 wild elephants in Sri Lanka 100 years later and indiscriminate capture, hunting for ‘pleasure’ and the destruction of elephants as agricultural pests have catastrophically reduced the figure to just 2,000.
The reduction and fragmentation of habitat has increasingly brought wild elephants in conflict with man. As food and water becomes scarce, the elephant population is forced to feed on cultivated land. The predation of the elephants has destroyed the livelihood of farmers and despite a general reverence for elephants in Sri lankan culture, they have become increasingly viewed as pests.
The DWLC claims that in the last decade at least 1,369 elephants have been killed as a result of crop raiding; a huge percentage of the current estimated population of just double that figure. The elephants are not the only ones to have suffered, in the same period 536 humans have reportedly lost their lives.