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A Wildlife Hero Lost, But His Legacy Lives On

On the night of Wednesday August 16, the world lost a true hero. Wayne Lotter, a wonderful, passionate, and big-hearted man, was shot and killed in a taxi in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in likely retaliation for his work battling the poaching of elephants, rhinoceros, and other African wildlife. He lived and breathed this work, and died a hero for the cause.

When I first met Wayne Lotter six years ago, it was immediately clear to me that I was in the presence of an immensely dedicated and courageous human being. I have never seen someone more committed than Wayne to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife, which led him to constantly seek the best strategies to turn the tide on poaching in non-violent, effective, and sustainable ways. With his partner Krissie Clark, he founded the PAMS Foundation in Tanzania in 2009, and worked tirelessly to keep their critical anti-poaching work going strong, often in the face of serious challenges from corrupted people who profited from the illegal trade in ivory, horn, and bushmeat.

Wayne’s work has resulted in his organization having the most successful track record of apprehending and prosecuting poachers in Tanzania. He also recognized the importance of working closely with communities on environmental education and reducing human-wildlife conflict to address local needs.

It is testament to Wayne’s effectiveness that he made powerful enemies. He helped to dismantle some of the most important ivory trafficking syndicates in Africa, and although he knew his personal safety was constantly at risk, he never backed down from the fight.

People who knew Wayne remember him as charming and witty, with an eccentric sense of humor. His staff also remember him as deeply kind, generous, and patient, and he was devoted to his twin daughters.

The news of his death has sent shockwaves throughout the conservation community and as tributes pour in from people around the world, many have wondered how they can help continue the Wayne Legacy. A trust in Wayne’s name has been set up that will help financially support his family and pay for costs associated with his death, including relocating his body to his native South Africa and holding a funeral so his family may say goodbye. Funds raised above the amount needed to cover these costs will be used to pay for continued intelligence-gathering against the ivory trade and to help the families of other wildlife rangers who are killed on duty.

Donations can be made at the following link.

More articles by:

Monica Bond, a wildlife biologist with the Wild Nature Institute, is a nationally known scientific expert on spotted owls and fire ecology. Bond also serves on the board of the Fund for Wild Nature.

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