37 year old British helicopter pilot, Roger Gower, 37, was killed by poachers last month in a game reserve next to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania while assisting wildlife rangers.
British newspaper, The Daily Express, are reporting that “his murder was carried out by poverty-stricken locals … funded by powerful crime bosses in China, where the vast majority of ivory ends up.”
An insider claimed that because of the huge investment in Tanzania by Chinese businesses, corrupt police officers were turning a blind eye to elephant and rhino poaching.
Mr Gower was on the trail of the poachers when he was hit by a high-calibre bullet fired from the ground which tore through the helicopter’s floor. Despite managing to land the helicopter safely, saving the life of his passenger, he died from his injuries before rescue teams could reach him.
Last week, nine men and a woman appeared in court, including 28-year-old Niles Gunga, who is charged with murder as he is believed to have fired the fatal shot which killed the pilot.
The others face a string of charges including poaching and possessing weapons.
A source close to the investigation claims a corrupt parks employee and former police officer, Iddy Abdullah Mashaka, hired the poachers, acting on the orders of a gang financed by the Triads.
“Ivory smuggling is almost akin to drug dealing. There are young socially deprived kids on the streets serving up crack and heroin, taking the risks while the kingpin at the top of the chain reaps the rewards.
“The suspects arrested in the Gower murder were, in the main, poor farm boys who were recruited by a corrupt parks employee, a one-time police officer sacked for using excessive force. He in turn was handled by a small group of mysterious individuals, using only first names and throwaway mobile phones, hiding behind business names in the Meatu region of Tanzania.
“They are the facilitators employed by the Chinese to recruit poachers and organise logistics. It’s rare for the Chinese organisers to be close to the contraband. The network involved in the Gower murder also has links to a Chineseowned business in Dar es Salaam, and this business to other shipping companies in Africa and south-east Asia.” – Unnamed Daily Express source
A Just Giving page set up by Mr Gower’s brothers has raised£73,499 (98%) of their £75k target with two days remaining and a memorial service for the former Tropic Air Kenya pilot has been planned for 6 May.