As Tanzania, under the new leadership of President Magufuli, continues to step up anti-poaching operations, bad news has reached from Dar es Salaam about the loss of life of a British helicopter pilot who was in close aerial pursuit of a group of poachers.
According to information received, the pilot, named as Roger Gower, aged 37, provided aerial support for rangers on the ground pursuing a group of poachers who had killed three elephant already. When approaching, the poachers opened fire on the helicopter, forcing an emergency landing by the mortally-wounded pilot. Gower was found already dead still strapped in his seat when the ground unit arrived at the scene on Friday. The incident took place in the Maswa Game Reserve area which adjoins the Grumeti Sector of the Serengeti National Park. Dozens of game rangers and wardens have been killed in recent years while carrying out anti-poaching operations in Africa, but it is extremely rare that surveillance aircraft are hit, leave alone a pilot killed in action.
Conservationists, staff of TANAPA, and government officials have expressed their deep regret over this incident and extended their condolences to Roger’s family and friends.
Meanwhile, security forces have swung into action to pursue the criminals who, when caught, will face trial for murder and not only poaching, an offense which carries the death penalty in Tanzania.