Wayne Lotter, founding member of the PAMS conservation NGO.
Photograph: Krissie Clark/PAMS Foundation

The head of an animal conservation NGO who had received numerous death threats has been shot and killed by an unknown gunman in Tanzania.

Wayne Lotter, 51, was shot on Wednesday evening in the Masaki district of the city of Dar es Salaam. The wildlife conservationist was being driven from the airport to his hotel when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle. Two men, one armed with a gun opened his car door and shot him.

Lotter was a director and co-founder of the PAMS Foundation, an NGO that provides conservation and anti-poaching support to communities and governments in Africa. Since starting the organisation in Tanzania in 2009, he had received numerous death threats relating to his work.

Police in Tanzania have launched an investigation into his death.

The PAMS Foundation funded and supported Tanzania’s elite anti-poaching National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) which was responsible for arrests of major ivory traffickers including Yang Feng Glan, the so-called “Queen of Ivory” and several other notorious elephant poachers. Since 2012, the unit has arrested more than 2,000 poachers and ivory traffickers and has a conviction rate of 80%. The NTSCIU was recently featured in the Netflix documentary The Ivory Game. In a previous interview, Lotter said he believed its work had helped to reduce poaching rates in Tanzania by at least 50%.

The latest elephant census data suggests that elephant populations fell by 30% in Africa between 2007 and 2014. Tanzania experienced one of the biggest declines in elephant numbers, where the census documented a 60% decrease in the population.

Lotter rarely took credit for PAMS’ success in helping reduce poaching rates in Tanzania, and was always quick to credit the work of the communities and agencies he worked with.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Sophie Tremblay