Tributes have been paid online to British helicopter pilot, Roger Gower, who died after his helicopter was shot down by poachers in Tanzania on Friday afternoon.
Captain Gower who, according to his Facebook page, lived in Nanyuki in Kenya’s Laikipia County, was helping authorities in Tanzania track the criminals when his helicopter was fired on.
Affectionately known as Captain Roger, he had previously lived in London and Birmingham, moving to East Africa in 2008 four years after qualifying as a pilot. He had also served for a time with the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
According to his Friedkin Conservation Fund colleague, Pratik Patel, Mr Gower was shot at during a patrol as he approached the last carcass of three elephants that had been killed by poachers.
After spotting the third carcass, he circled round for a closer look when a poacher stepped from the bush and opened fire.
Pictures posted online show the badly damaged remains of the helicopter, including a bloodied bullet hole in the pilot’s seat of the aircraft, which lay on its side in the savannah grass.
Mr Patel said Captain Gower’s main role was flying people between the different camps on the reserve, but he also spent some time every day flying patrols to support ground staff in their work against poachers.
Friends of Captain Roger have been posting messages of condolence on the Elephants and Bees Project Facebook page.
Carole Chambers posted: “RIP Roger – heaven has a special place waiting for you – my condolences to your family. Thank you for trying to save our precious animals”, while Mike Gillett said:”Huge respect for dedication to tackling poachers, many speak out but he acted and he made a difference. RIP”.