British wildlife pilot killed in Tanzania, SA colleague hurt

2016-01-31 16:23


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dar es Salaam - Tanzanian police have arrested three men after a British pilot was killed when gunmen opened fire on his helicopter as he tracked suspected elephant poachers, a minister said on Sunday.

Roger Gower, 37, was killed on Friday when his helicopter crashed after it was attacked during a patrol of the Maswa Game Reserve in northern Tanzania, close to the world famous Serengeti National Park.

Gower's South African colleague, safari guide Nicky Bester, leapt out of the helicopter midair as it crashed and was injured, according to a spokesperson from the Tanzania's National Parks, Pascal Shelutete.

"The suspects are in the hands of police," Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Jumanne Maghembe told AFP.

"They are co-operating, and soon more people making up the poaching gang will be netted and brought to justice.

"Three elephant carcasses that were found indicated that whoever shot the chopper down was on a serious illegal hunting spree," Shelutete said, adding such poachers can be "heavily armed with sophisticated military weaponry".

Photographs of the crashed helicopter show twisted metal, as well as apparent bullet holes in the fuselage, and smears of blood on the pilot's seat.

It was not immediately clear if Gower was killed by the gunshots or when the helicopter crashed.

"The suspected poachers shot the helicopter which was on surveillance at a remote game reserve," Maghembe added. "This is a sad incident. We will continue with the war against poachers... these are cruel criminals."

Ivory is sought after for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

It is estimated that more than 30 000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year.

The wildlife charity Gower worked for confirmed his death.

"Roger was killed while piloting a helicopter during a co-ordinated effort with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track down and arrest active elephant poachers," said a statement from Dan Friedkin, chairperson of the Friedkin Conservation Fund.

"In the course of this action, the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded."

Conservation officials appealed for help in catching the culprits.

"These people killing elephants in our conservation areas live in the neighbourhood, and those with information should come forward," Shelutete added.

"We all need to work together to end the killings of elephants and people fighting poaching."

Read more on:    tanzania  |  poaching

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.