A Tanzanian court has sentenced 11 people to death for the 2017 murder of prominent anti-poaching activist Wayne Lotter.

Conservationist Loter is a 51-year-old South African citizen living in Tanzania. He was a founder of PAMS Foundation. The foundation had been working to stop elephant poaching and ivory trafficking in the East African country.

He was shot dead while riding in a taxi in Dar es Salaam.

The exact motive for his killing is still unknown, but Lotter’s colleagues believe he came to the attention of the killers for his work in protecting elephants.

Nine Tanzanians and two citizens of neighboring Burundi were among those executed on Friday.

High Court judge Leila Magnia said there was strong evidence of involvement in the murder and conspiracy to kill against the 11.

Judge Laila Magnia told the court, ‘Some of the suspects admitted to taking part in conspiracy meetings and murders in recorded statements to police officers. The evidence provided was strong enough to convict them.’

Commutation of the death penalty is not uncommon in Tanzania, but sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment. The last execution in the country was in 1994.

Tanzania is one of the African countries where elephants are poached the most. Over 66,000 elephants have been poached in the country in the last ten years. However, elephant poaching has declined relatively in recent years as banning efforts continue

According to a report by the NGO Global Witness, more than 1,700 people have been killed worldwide in the last 10 years, including 200 environmentalists in 2021.

(Dhaka Times / 03 December / SAT)