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.
According to information released by the Friedkin Conservation Fund this week, the pilot, Roger Gower, was flying above the Maswa Game Reserve in Tanzania. He was shot down near the carcass of an elephant who was recently killed, and died after he landed. Gower, originally from the U.K., worked ferrying conservationists to camps and patrolling the area for carcasses.
Tanzanian MP Lazaro Nyalandu confirmed the news in a series of tweets, noting that the poachers responsible are still at large.
The issue of poaching in Tanzania (and other countries, for that matter) and violence is an enduring one. Poachers are often motivated by systemic poverty and lack of opportunity for other occupations, and in some countries can be shot and killed on sight. Meanwhile, conservationists have been fighting unendingly for decades to save Africa’s dwindling wildlife, particularly elephants, whose numbers have fallen by over 100,000 individuals in the past few years. Often, they face threats and violence, and more than one conservationist has been killed for protecting wildlife.