3 Arrested After Poachers Kill Pilot From African Conservation Fund

In a statement from The Friedkin Conservation Fund on Friday, a British pilot by the name Roger Gowan was killed by poachers while helping authorities follow the trail of elephant poachers in Tanzania. Roger Gowan was associated with the foundation and committed to bringing illegal hunters to justice. Now, three poachers responsible for firing upon his helicopter, which resulted in the Birmingham man’s death, were arrested on Sunday, reported Arab News. On it’s website, founder Dan Friedkin wrote that the organization was “profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend.” While only three men have been arrested, authorities are hoping for further leads to bring others to justice.

“Roger was killed while piloting a helicopter during a coordinated effort with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities to track down and arrest active elephant poachers. In the course of this action the poachers fired upon the helicopter and Roger was fatally wounded.

“We are committed to honouring Roger and his work. We are also committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack are found and brought to justice. We believe that Roger can best be honoured by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.

“This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania’s wildlife.”

Roger Gowan had committed himself to bringing poachers to justice and had been an accountant until 2004, when he qualified as a helicopter pilot, says The Guardian.

Gowan was tracking a group of poachers in the northern Serengeti who had killed an elephant north of Maswa, Tanzanian MP Lazaro Nyalandu said in a tweet. He added that Gowan had managed to land the craft but died before help could arrive.

Nyalandu, in an expression of grief, shot off a series of tweets in honor of the murdered pilot.

Lazaro Nyalandu came out with a statement on Sunday announcing that there are three suspect in the hands of the police who may have been responsible for the murder. They are believed to have been recovered from a nearby community. No further information is available about the suspects and updates will be made as necessary.

Nick Bester, a South African colleague of Gower was also injured in the attack, but was able to leap from the helicopter just prior to the aircraft making contact with the ground. It was not immediately determined whether or not Gowan was killed by the wreck or by AK-47 fire. According to authorities, the poachers were on a serious killing spree. Three elephants were killed just prior to the assault on Gower’s helicopter. Authorities are still searching for others that may have been involved.

[Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images]