Tanzania poachers ‘kill British pilot’

Roger GowerImage copyright
Tropic Air Kenya

Image caption

Roger Gower was tracking poachers in a helicopter when it was fired upon, the charity he was working for said

A British helicopter pilot has been shot dead by elephant poachers in Tanzania, the conservation charity for which he was working has said.

The Friedkin Conservation Fund said Roger Gower had been tracking poachers, who fired on his helicopter, fatally wounding him.

Charity founder Dan Friedkin said the organisation was “profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend”.

The Foreign Office has confirmed the death of a UK national in Tanzania.

It said it was providing assistance to the family.

Mr Gower is reported to be a former accountant who qualified as a pilot in 2004.

Mr Friedkin said: “We are committed to honouring Roger and his work. We are also committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack are found and brought to justice.

“We believe that Roger can best be honoured by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.

“This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.”

‘Fine-hearted individual’

Tanzanian MP Lazaro Nyalandu, a former minister for natural resources and tourism, said in a tweet that the incident happened on Friday as Mr Gower tried to locate a group that had killed an elephant in the Maswa Game Reserve, which borders the Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania.

He said Mr Gower had managed to land his helicopter, but died before he could be rescued.

Mr Nyalandu said: “RIP Capt Roger. You loved our country and I knew you on many flights we took together in defence of our wildlife heritage.

“Those poachers who killed Capt Roger are coward[s], evil, and sad people. A fine-hearted individual gone too soon, and our hearts are broken.

“Capt Roger’s body was flown into Arusha early today, as those who killed him are still at large. Everything must [be] done to bring them to justice.”

The Friedkin Fund says elephant poaching is “especially prevalent” in Maswa, with rangers encountering ivory poachers “on a fairly regular basis”.


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