When Wayne Lotter, Director of PAMS Foundation, enters a room he does so silently, assessing the situation, his strategy in place. He has been refining his skills in intelligence-led operations over the last three decades.

He knows a well informed and fully integrated multi-agency approach is the only sensible way to wage a war against poaching and expect to be able to win it.

It is well publicized that that the scale of the elephant poaching problem is immense, with an estimated 35,000 African elephants being illegally killed annually for their ivory. Some conservationists believe it to be closer to 50, 000. How can a global crisis of this magnitude be immobilized?

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PAMS Foundation Game Scouts Celebrate Success

Protected Area Management Solutions (PAMS Foundation) has revolutionized conventional strategies that were clearly failing. Based in Tanzania, and a registered charity in the US, PAMS Foundation have notched up remarkable successes that can be replicated in other African countries. Wayne is quick to point out however, that “All credit must go to the Tanzanian authorities who are responsible to implement the bold programmes that we and our donor partners support.”

One of PAMS many successes is the Ruvuma Elephant Project. Since its inception in 2011, over 200 game scouts have been trained in basic anti-poaching skills and case preparation and are paid for doing patrols, a vast improvement on income available from local employment opportunities.

PAMS works to build good relationships with communities, fostering relationships between them and protected area authorities. As trust grows, so do detection levels. This successful foundation demonstrates lessons in the need to root out the causes rather than focusing on the symptoms. Locals do not receive much benefit from having wildlife as neighbours. Enormous herbivores raid crops, leopards and lions kill goats and cattle, and villagers get killed by elephants and hippos.

Building trust by seeking solutions is the formula. Elephants don’t like hot chilli and fear bees, so the project helped locals grow chillies which are smeared on sisal ropes surrounding crops. PAMS has also installed beehives fences that form an anti-elephant barrier when hung every 15 meters between poles. A significant added advantage is that chilli is a cash crop and the honey can be a viable income for communities, further reducing the temptation to participate in poaching.

PAMS partners with the Tanzania’s Elite National Task Force, the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) which leads intelligence-led operations targeting buyers and high level traders in urban areas, followed by thorough and professional case preparation and prosecution.

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35,000 Elephants are Killed Annually for Ivory

The strategy is paying off. In 2015 alone, almost 700 poachers were arrested, the top 3 ivory traders were put behind bars, 168 suspects were prosecuted (41 receiving prison sentences of 16 years or longer) and 143 firearms and 26 vehicles transporting ivory were seized.

Co-Founder and Director of PAMS, Krissie Clark, commented “It is not the numbers of arrests that matter per se, but more the fact that many of these are not just the lowest level poachers, but include numerous kingpins and illegal traders who are responsible for thousands of elephant deaths.”

Of utmost importance, the “Queen of Ivory” Yang Feng Glan and notorious elephant poacher Boniface Matthew Mariango, referred to by law enforcement officials as “Shetani” or “The Devil,” were arrested last year.

Considered to be the most prolific elephant poacher and ivory trafficker in East Africa, Mariango, has managed over 15 poaching syndicates that have been operating throughout Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique and southern Kenya with impunity for years.

At the recent Giants Club Summit and massive ivory stockpile burning event, the Kenyan government committed strongly to using the same intelligence-led approach with focus on judicial process.

Given the decimation of nature’s incredible giants and endangered wildlife species worldwide, the intelligence-led approach needs to be integrated into all anti-poaching strategies, before it’s too late.

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