I was profoundly shocked when I heard that Wayne Lotter, co-founder of PAMS Foundation, and known for his courageous fight against poaching of wildlife, had been shot and killed earlier this week in the Masaki district of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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 his native South Africa before moving to East Africa to fight poaching, especially elephant poaching in Tanzania.

It was in 2009 that he teamed up with Krissie Clark and Ally Namangaya to form the PAMS Foundation and since then they have worked tirelessly to fight both poachers and corruption. I knew of their activities long before I first met them in 2014 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. Fortunately, his good name and that of PAMS was salvaged.

Wayne passionately believed in the importance of involving local communities in the protection of wildlife, and through his work with PAMS he helped train hundreds of village game scouts in many parts of the country. As a result, he gained the support of many of the local people, but inevitably faced strong opposition from dealers and many high-level government officials. He also worked to develop an intelligence-based approach to anti-poaching that undoubtedly helped to reduce the shocking level of elephant slaughter in Tanzania.

Wayne and his partner Krissie Clark have always been totally committed to their work, and have demonstrated, again and again, that they are prepared to carry on no matter what.

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.

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