As reported in USA Today and in social media worldwide, elephant poachers in Tanzania shot and killed British helicopter pilot Roger Gower on Friday while he was working with the Texas-based Friedkin Conservation Fund and Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track them down and make an arrest. Gower was flying over the Maswa Game Reserve near Serengeti National Park pursuing poachers who had killed an elephant when they fired on his helicopter. Gower was able to land but died before help arrived, according to tweets from Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania's former minister for natural resources and tourism. The Associated Press reports that Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the death and is providing assistance to his family.
“You loved our country and I knew you on many flights we took together in defense of our wildlife heritage," wrote Nyalandu.
In a statement from the Friedkin Conservation Fund, the group’s chairman, Dan Friedkin, said, “We are committed to honoring Roger and his work, and we are also committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack are found and brought to justice. We believe Roger can best be honored 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."
Gower’s murder also underlies one of the biggest threats to the future of hunting: poachers. A 2014 study reports that in 2011 alone, 40,000 African elephants were slaughtered by poachers for their ivory.