Wildlife has lost yet another champion. Wayne Lotter, 51, a vigorous leader in efforts to suppress wildlife crime, was murdered in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 16.
Nearly nine years ago, Lotter joined with Krissie Clark and Ally Namangaya to create the PAMS Foundation, an extraordinary organization that has had exceptional impact against poaching and trafficking gangs—especially ivory dealers in Tanzania.
Lotter was a ranger in his native South Africa before moving to Tanzania, the most serious elephant poaching hotspot in Africa. There, he crafted a unique partnership between PAMS and Tanzania’s elite National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) that has resulted in the arrest of more than 2,000 poachers and wildlife trackers since 2012, and a conviction rate of 80 percent.
PAMS provided ongoing training for NTSCIU officers, as well as quality professional equipment. Lotter was admired by many for his energetic and persistent efforts to achieve “intelligence led” law enforcement. He demanded long hours of surveillance to make absolutely certain they were investigating the right person, and that they had acquired enough evidence needed for a successful prosecution.
As a consequence, NTSCIU made a number of high-profile arrests, such as Boniface Methew Malyango, an ivory dealer who preferred the pseudonym Shetani Hama Huruma—Swahili for “the devil has no mercy.” This particular devil is now incarcerated in a Tanzanian prison, where he is sentenced to remain until 2028. Another high profile case is that of Yang Feng Glan, the notorious “Queen of Ivory.” Yang’s conviction is essentially assured at this point and her attorneys are seeking merely to negotiate the least onerous sentence.
On the night of August 16, Lotter was riding in a taxi from the airport to his hotel when another car blocked his path. Two men jumped out of that car, opened the taxi door, and shot Lotter, point blank. Many believe this to be a contract killing commissioned by criminal gangs associated with the illegal ivory trade. In October, three people were arrested and charged with the murder.
Wayne Lotter is survived by his wife Inge and their twin daughters Cara Jayne and Tamsin, as well as by his parents Vera and Charles Lotter, all of whom live in South Africa. Despite this tragic loss, felt by many, many people, the careful foundation built by Lotter will allow the PAMS-NTSCIU partnership to continue the work to which he dedicated his life.