Information has emerged from Tanzania that the sustained manhunt for the killers of helicopter pilot Roger Gower has yielded results as three suspects are now in custody, reportedly cooperating with security forces. It is understood from a regular source in Arusha who did not wish to be named that more accomplices are being tracked with additional arrests imminent. The suspects will be arraigned in court and reportedly charged with poaching offenses and murder.
Roger Gower died in the seat of his helicopter after being fired upon from the ground but in his dying moments still managed to avoid a complete crash, aiding the survival of a second occupant who was also in the helicopter as a spotter.
The gang of poachers fled the scene, also leaving the carcasses of at least three elephant behind, but according to the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof. Jumanne Maghembe, their days are now numbered: “Soon more people making up the poaching gang will be netted and brought to justice.” He had vowed earlier on Sunday that no effort would be spared to find the poachers turned killers and have them face the full force of the law after he visited the scene in Maswa.
Tanzania’s conservation fraternity, together with their colleagues in neighboring countries, are in deep shock over the unprecedented fatal shooting of the pilot, which resulted in his death and the destruction of the helicopter when it hit the ground hard. “There have been reports in the past that low flying surveillance aircraft came under rifle fire from poachers to scare the pilot. But this is the first time in East Africa as far as I know that a pilot was actually hit and killed. Mr. Gower’s passing is deeply regretted by us all here in Arusha because he, as a volunteer, played an immensely useful role in combating this menace. The new government at least is committed to crack down hard on the poachers, the traders, the middlemen, and financiers and finish the cartels. This tragedy will also make us all redouble our efforts to honor our fallen comrade, Roger, who is now one of Tanzania’s conservation heroes,” added another regular Arusha-based conservation source.