South African conservationist Wayne Lotter, 51, was shot dead in a robbery in Tanzania. Picture: PAMS Foundation
Cape Town - Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall has expressed “profound shock” at the murder of widely respected South African conservationist Wayne Lotter in Dar es Salaam, but said his death would not deter efforts to counter devastating poaching across the continent.

Lotter, a co-founder of Tanzania’s pioneering PAMS (Protected Area Management Solutions) Foundation, was on his way from the airport to his hotel on Wednesday when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. One of two occupants, who had a gun, opened Lotter’s door and shot him. They made off with his laptop.

Goodall said: “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.”

Lotter, 51, a former pupil of Lowveld High in Mpumalanga, and a former Kruger National Park ranger, had received death threats before the attack.

He is survived by his widow Inge, daughters Cara Jayne and Tamsin, and parents Vera and Charles.

In an interview with the Lowvelder newspaper in March, Lotter said the PAMS Foundation’s multi-agency approach, working closely with the Tanzanian National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit and the wildlife and forestry crime unit of the country’s ministry of natural resources and tourism, had helped in the arrest of 1 306 poachers and illegal ivory traders since 2014. More than 50 offenders had been jailed for 16 years or more.

These efforts succeeded in halving the poaching rate in Tanzania where it had reached crisis proportions; about 144000 African elephants have been killed for their ivory in the past seven years.

In the six years preceding November 2014, Tanzania reportedly lost by far the most, its elephant population plunging from 109 000 in 2009 to 43 000 in 2014.

Significantly, Lotter contributed to the investigation of Chinese national and long-time resident of Dar es Salaam, Yang Feng Glan, 66, thought to be the most notorious ivory trafficker arrested in East Africa in the last decade.

Her case is currently before the courts, the state accusing her of having run a sophisticated supply chain between East Africa and China. She was arrested in 2015.

Goodall, one of the world’s most prominent conservationists, said in a statement that Lotter was “known for his courageous fight against poaching of wildlife”.

She added: “Wayne was a hero of mine, a hero to many, someone who devoted his life to protecting Africa’s wildlife. As a young man, he served as a ranger in South Africa before moving to East Africa to fight poaching, especially elephant poaching in Tanzania.”

In 2009, he co-founded the PAMS Foundation with Krissie Clark and Ally Namangaya.

Goodall met Lotter in 2014, at a time “when the elephant poaching crisis was at its worst in the Ruaha National Park”.

“At that time, powerful vested interests were desperately trying to blacken Wayne’s name and close down the PAMS Foundation. I was asked to bring the issue to the attention of people who could help him fight this, including the American Embassy.”

She said he had “passionately believed” in the importance of involving local communities in the protection of wildlife, and had helped train hundreds of village game scouts throughout Tanzania.

Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, centre, with Wayne Lotter and Krissie Clark, his fellow founder of the PAMS (Protected Area Management Solutions) Foundation.

“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 ivory trade. Moreover, his courage in the face of stiff opposition and personal threats, and his determination to keep on fighting, have inspired many, and encouraged them also to keep fighting for wildlife,” Goodall said.

The Guardian noted on Saturday that “Lotter rarely took credit for PAMS’s success in helping reduce poaching rates in Tanzania, and was always quick to credit the work of the communities and agencies he worked with”.

Azzedine Downes, chief executive of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said Lotter was “one of Africa’s leading and most committed conservationists and can be credited as the driving force behind ending the unscrupulous slaughter of Tanzania’s elephants”.

World Animal website described Lotter as “a distinguished member of the international conservation community”, who had served on numerous boards of prominent groups and was the vice-president of the International Ranger Federation.

Weekend Argus