The poacher who shot at 37 year old British helicopter pilot Roger Gower, while he was assisting Tanzanian rangers, resulting in his death has been named by authorities.
Lazaro Mambosasa, the regional police commissioner revealed that one of the suspects recently arrested was the alleged gunman, was 28 year old Njile Gonga.
Following his arrest, he reportedly led the police to the rifle he had used, which was hidden on his roof, and to tusks he had taken from the elephant.
Following a weeklong manhunt involving house-to-house searches in villages surrounding the reserve, at least nine people have been arrested in connection with the death of the pilot, including former police officer Iddi Mashaka, who allegedly used his current position as an intelligence officer with a regional conservation authority to help the poachers travel undetected.
According to Mr Mambosasa, the criminal poaching ring has now been dismantled.
The pilot, affectionately known as ‘Captain Roger’ was shot on January 29 while conducting anti-poaching surveillance over the Maswa Game Reserve. With his passenger, colleague Nick Bester, they came across a newly killed elephant and circled back to take a closer look, when their helicopter was shot at by the poachers who were still at the scene.
A bullet from a .458 hunting rifle punctured the floor of the helicopter and ripped through the former Tropic Air Kenya pilot’s leg and shoulder. Although he managed to land the helicopter, saving the life of Mr Bester, he died from his injuries before rescue teams could reach him.
Following his death, Roger’s brothers, Max and John, launched a JustGiving fundraising page in his memory to help anti-poaching initiatives in Tanzania. Initially, they set a target of £50,000 but raised this amount in just over a week, so increased their target to £75,000. Currently they have raised just over £60k with 20 days remaining.
They have also set up a Facebook page in their brother’s memory for friends and family to post memories and pictures of Roger.
Today (10 February) is also the day of Roger’s funeral which was scheduled to start at 10am (1pm Kenya time).