The Legacy of Wayne Lotter

When the PAMS Foundation started the Ruvuma Elephant Project (REP) in southern Tanzania in 2011 poaching was at a crisis level. Between 2009 and 2014, within a five year period, Tanzania lost 60% of its elephants. The worst declines were in the southern half of the country. In 2009 there were more than 34,000 elephants in the Ruaha-Rungwa eco-system and almost 45,000 elephants in the Selous Game Reserve but by 2014, these numbers had fallen to just 8,000 and 15,000, respectively.

PAMS implemented an intelligence-led, multi-agency strategy with an emphasis on community participation in the Ruvuma region, a 2,000km2 corridor that lies between the Selous Game Reserve and the Niassa Game Reserve in Mozambique and within just a few months the rate of poaching decreased. In 2012, hundreds of carcasses were recorded, but by 2016, the number had fallen to just two, in spite of resurgence in poaching in the Selous – Niassa ecosystem.

In a subsequent collaboration with the government of Tanzania and community based anti-poaching units, PAMS has helped to make a significant different in the country’s effort to halt poaching with the rate of decline decreasing by at least two-thirds since 2015.

Wayne Lotter the founder of PAMS was a conservationist, with a wry and slightly off-beat sense of humour. He was a rebel with a cause, anti-establishment at times, unafraid to speak out, shake things up a bit and push against the boundaries of ineptitude and inertia. He was a trailblazer, the kind of conservationist you feel privileged to know. For the last two years he provided Born Free Foundation with his unlimited expertise and - as importantly - his immeasurable encouragement in its efforts to protect elephants at Babile Elephant Sanctuary, Ethiopia. He was warm and generous and confidence building.

According to Global Witness, 117 environmentalists have been murdered so far in 2017. On the evening of Wednesday, 16th of August, Wayne Lotter became number 118. Our hearts go out to those that loved him, to everyone at the PAMS Foundation and to the elephants of Tanzania for this loss.

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