Changing Planet

Tragic Murder of Prominent Conservationist a Grave Blow to Defense of the Living Planet

Director of Tanzanian NGO, PAMS Foundation, assassinated for his work in the war against poaching

By Lindy Taverner

Dar es Salaam, 18 August 2017 – 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 benefitted 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 this week in a ‘hit’ that police are investigating.

When Wayne entered a room, he always did so silently, assessing the situation, deciding on his strategy, 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.

Wayne 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. Wayne 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, working collaboratively with others to create a world where communities worked alongside conservation organizations to protect wildlife. 

 Wayne 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.

“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.

”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 NPO 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 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.”

 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.”

Krissie Clark, Co-Founder and Director of PAMS Foundation vows, “This will not stop PAMS’ work in Tanzania. We will continue with our education programmes and providing support and training to the thousands of rangers and game scouts we work with across the country. We will continue to fight and finish what Wayne started.” 

A memorial ceremony that is open to the public will be held for Wayne Lotter at Baobab Village in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday from 4pm (East Africa Time). 

  • Jennifer Anderson

    I am so, so, sorry to hear of this tragic crime and the loss of a true Elephant Champion. I am grateful beyond measure for the excellent work he did and I know the difference he made for Tanzania’s elephants is also beyond measure. My prayers go out to his family, both personal and professional.

  • Scott Nelson

    There simply is nobody like Wayne Lotter. He wasn’t just one of many conservationists. He was one and only. All of us who think we do good work and think we are relevant, still would need to reach very high to get to Wayne’s level. Words and language and human emotion cannot convey the weight of this loss. Wayne’s influence and death are beyond us. We just need to be better, and we just need to do more, if we are to honor him.

  • Clôde de Guise

    We were working together at Interpretive Guide Society in Arusha – for the lectures.
    i am shocked. I am with you by heart.
    Tell me if there is anything I can do to help from my country – Quebec – Canada.
    My profound sympathy to you Krissie and all the PAM’s team.
    Love, Clôde

  • Kristen Appel

    It is a tragic crime that this has happened to Wayne who is such a courageous and selfless person. PAMS through his and Krissie’s stewardship has done very important work to stem the illegal poaching and bring pride to the local Tanzanians who are on the frontline defending their beautiful wildlife. The Australian rangers are with you in your in continuing your work, we are devastated for your loss and our condolences go to Wayne’s family, Krissie, and the whole PAMS team, our thought, love and support are with you.

  • Helen Daniels

    Once again some human being takes away another decent caring compassionate person who showed courage and conviction and sensibility. But for all those greedy and corrupt humans –let it be known that there always be others out there who care enough to step up and tell the world about the hideous barbaric cruel and unjustifiable slaughter of elephants.Rest in peace knowing your legacy will be passed onn to others to take on the fight

  • marc mc donald

    Having worked with Wayne in the Kruger National Park, who mentored me, and created a deep interest of ecology management and later anti-poaching work myself. This is a giant of a man who kept his course no matter what. His untimely murder, has resulted in our teams out here to become even more committed and focused. We will keep his work alive and we pray for comfort and peace for his family. His colleagues and all those that are affected by this criminal act.

  • Zoe Edwards

    He is walking with the elephants he tried to protect. What a tragedy. My condolences to his friends and family. Please don’t give up the fight.

  • ramona mays

    Wayne was an inspiration as he moved through the dark channels shining a bright light into the corners of humanity and their greed in pursuit of Ivory for show! Poor dear elephants have lost their greatest protector who armed them with golden light, however I believe he is still working with us on the other side. He is now in the company of the magnificent fallen elephants that he sought to protect and preserve. Now we need to channel his great spirit and continue the work to end poaching for GOOD

  • carl reiche

    It truly is a sad day. Africa is doomed. Its leaders have scant respect for what is considered upright and normal. The corruption and collusion of black rulers and their insatiable greed are what drives the threat against wildlife, in Kenya it may be the elephant, but in South Africa its the rhino. I have no words. May his soul rest in peace. All will be judged. Condolences to his family. The world suffers another loss.

  • John Waugh

    We can’t allow there to be just one Wayne. Wayne is unique, to be sure. Part of that was his clear vision, which was not to be the hero – but to make heros by helping good people do good work. That’s real leadership, and it is something we can all help do in his honor. He knew the stakes were high. We owe it to him now to continue his work in our various capacities.

  • Dr. Rohan H Wickramasinghe

    Deepest sympathies to his family and the PAM Foundation from Sri Lanka!

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