In a statement from The Friedkin Conservation Fund on Friday, a British pilot by the name Roger Gowan was killed assisting authorities track down the movements of elephant poachers in Tanzania.
According to a 2014 census released last June, the number of elephants in the country stood at 43,500 in national parks and game reserves from the initial population of 110,000 at the last census in the previous five years, marking a decline 60 per cent.
The brother of a British pilot who was killed when his helicopter was shot down by poachers has spoken of his pride over his bravery.
Gower’s South African colleague, the safari guide Nicky Bester, leapt out of the helicopter in midair as it crashed and was injured, according to a spokesman from Tanzania National Parks, Pascal Shelutete.
In a tragic role reversal above the Serengeti, a helicopter pilot who was tracking the activities of hunters in a wildlife reserve was shot down by those same poachers.
Three elephants had been killed and he was hunting for those responsible.
“In the course of this action the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded”, the statement from the company’s chairman, Dan Friedkin, said.
It was not immediately clear whether Gower was working for the fund when he was killed.
He said that although no one flying a helicopter has previously been shot down by poachers, his brother understood the risks. “We will continue with the war against poachers … these are cruel criminals”.
Yesterday, Chief Executive Officer with Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT) Lathifa Sykes was lost for words following Gower’s death.
‘The bullet that hit Roger cut through the floor of the helicopter, through his leg, part of his body and shoulder and hit his face, before going through the roof of the helicopter, ‘ said Pratik Patel, a close friend working on the same anti-poaching operation.
China is the world’s largest market for illegal ivory, which has been thriving under the cover of legal ivory sales.
The Gower family have invited donations to a fund established in Roger’s memory that will contribute towards anti-poaching efforts in Tanzania.
The fire of 120 tons, expected in April, will be eight times the size of any ivory stockpile destroyed so far, with tusks from several thousand elephants.