A high court in Tanzania on Friday sentenced 11 people to death for the murder of a well-known conservationist in the East African country more than five years ago.
Anti-poaching activist Wayne Lotter, described as a “hero to many” for his anti-poaching efforts, was shot dead in August 2017 while riding in a taxi in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
Those sentenced to death include nine Tanzanians and two citizens of neighboring Burundi. Tanzania hasn’t carried out an execution in decades.
Poachers in Tanzania target various wildlife, including elephants that are often killed for their tusks.
Lotter was the director and co-founder of the PAMS Foundation, a nongovernmental organization which said he had helped to train thousands of game scouts throughout Tanzania and developed an “intelligence-based approach” to anti-poaching that had success in countering wildlife trafficking.
Krissie Clark, who co-founded the foundation with Lotter, told CBS News in 2019 that her colleague had received multiple death threats over his work with PAMS before being killed.
“If we really want to defeat this illegal wildlife trafficking, we have to go for the blood supply; we have to stop the money at the heart of this crime,” Clark told CBS News.
After the announcement of the sentences, Clark released a statement saying she and her colleagues were relieved the trial was over.
“Wayne’s murder and the sentencing of the eleven accused should serve as a reminder to everyone that poaching and wildlife crime is devastating to all of us,” she said. “It destroys Tanzania’s extraordinary natural heritage and damages families and communities. Wildlife crime doesn’t pay.”