Eight charged in Tanzania with conservationist’s murder

24Feb 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Eight charged in Tanzania with conservationist’s murder

EIGHT people appeared in the Kisutu Resident Magistrates’ Court in Dar es Salaam charged with the murder of renowned conservationist Wayne Lotter.

The eight individuals were charged with murder and conspiracy to murder, according to court documents seen by the Guardian.

Lotter was gunned down in Masaki area in Dar es Salaam while coming from Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) after the taxi he was riding in was stopped at gun point.Wayne Lotter had received numerous death threats while battling international ivory-trafficking networks.

The charged include an officer with the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) and a Burundian national.

Lotter, a 51-year-old South African conservationist, was founder of the PAMS Foundation which worked to stop the poaching of elephants and trafficking of ivory in Tanzania. He was killed by unknown gunmen on August 16 while in a taxi on his way from the airport.

“Wayne was a visionary conservationist working with indefatigable determination to save Tanzania’s wildlife and we are relieved that some of the perpetrators responsible for his untimely death have been apprehended and are being brought to justice,” a PAMS official said yesterday.

Lotter was a director and co-founder of the PAMS Foundation, an NGO that provides conservation and anti-poaching support to communities and governments in Africa.

Since starting the organisation in Tanzania in 2009, he had received numerous death threats relating to his work.

The PAMS Foundation funded and supported Tanzania’s elite anti-poaching National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) which was responsible for arrests of major ivory traffickers including Yang Feng Glan, the so-called Queen of Ivory, and several other notorious elephant poachers.

Since 2012, the unit has arrested more than 2,000 poachers and ivory traffickers and has a conviction rate of 80 per cent. The NTSCIU was recently featured in the Netflix documentary ‘The Ivory Game.’

In a previous interview, Lotter said he believed its work had helped to reduce poaching rates in Tanzania by at least 50 per cent.

The latest elephant census data suggests that elephant populations fell by 30 per cent in Africa between 2007 and 2014. Tanzania experienced one of the biggest declines in elephant numbers, where the census documented a 60 per cent decrease in the population.

Lotter rarely took credit for PAMS’ success in helping reduce poaching rates in Tanzania, and was always quick to credit the work of the communities and agencies he worked with.

Lotter was a big figure in the international conservation community, having served on the boards of several conservation groups and was the Vice President of the International Ranger Federation. The news of his death has sent the community into mourning.

PAMS had scored some big wins fighting the illegal wildlife trade, working with Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) in the arrest of nearly 900 poachers and ivory traders.

These include Chinese citizen Yang Fenlan, known as the ‘Ivory Queen,’ who is currently on trial in Tanzania for illegally trafficking 706 elephant tusks between 2000 and 2014.

Tanzania has been one of the African countries worst hit by elephant poaching, losing over 66,000 elephants in a decade, but interdiction efforts meant poaching has declined in recent years.

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