Leading South African elephant conservationist killed in Tanzania

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Last year in Africa up to 35,000 African elephants were killed – the majority through poaching. Image courtesy: Reuters
Last year in Africa up to 35,000 African elephants were killed – the majority through poaching. Image courtesy: Reuters
Last year in Africa up to 35,000 African elephants were killed – the majority through poaching. Image courtesy: Reuters

In the battle to save some of Africa’s most-endangered species from extinction, conservationists are part of a constant tussle with poachers, over-population and climate change.

Many risk their lives on the frontline to protect animals, in an attempt to curb the vast illegal wildlife trade that goes on across the continent. In some instances, there are those that have lost their lives defending a species.

Leading elephant conservationist, Wayne Lotter, was shot dead last night in Tanzania’s main city, Dar es Salaam.

A pioneer of his trade, Lotter “devoted his life to Africa’s wildlife, from working as a ranger in his native South Africa as a young man, to leading the charge against poaching in Tanzania. Wayne cared deeply about the people and animals that populate this world,” the PAMS Foundation, for which Lotter was the co-founder of, said in a statement.

The conservation group was heavily involved in efforts to curb poaching gangs, and unconfirmed reports suggest that Lotter was shot by gunmen who fled with his laptop – it is not yet known who attacked, or their motive.

Lotter was based in Arusha city in northern Tanzania. He was believed to have come to Dar es Salaam for meetings and was on his way to an apartment when he was killed.

The South African was working to mitigate the effects of a global problem, last year in Africa up to 35,000 African elephants were killed – the majority through poaching.

Although greatly reduced, poaching still remains a major concern to conservationists on the survival of those animals listed at the bottom end of IUCN red list.

Lotter’s group also added: “Wayne’s charm, brilliance and eccentric sense of humour gave him the unique ability to make those around him constantly laugh and smile. He died bravely fighting for the cause he was most passionate about.”

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