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  1. ITV Report

British helicopter pilot 'shot and killed' by poachers in Africa

A picture of the helicopter wreckage was posted on Facebook by Wildlife At Risk. Credit: Wildlife At Risk

A British helicopter pilot has reportedly been 'shot and killed' by elephant poachers in Tanzania.

Roger Gower was said to be taking part in an operation with the Tanzanian wildlife authorities in the remote Maswa game reserve to 'track down and arrest active elephant poachers' when 'his helicopter was fired at and he was fatally wounded', according to the Friedkin Conservation Fund.

He managed to land the helicopter but died before rescuers could reach him.

Tanzanian ministers have pledged to find and arrest Mr Gower's killers. Credit: Tropic Air Kenya

In a statement the Friedkin Fund's Chairman, Dan Friedkin, paid tribute to Mr Gower who he called "our dear friend".

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 honoring 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 honored by redoubling our commitment to protect elephants and our priceless wildlife heritage.

This tragic event again highlights the appalling risk and cost of protecting Tanzania¹s wildlife.

– Friedkin Conservation Fund, Dan Friedkin

Animal charity Wildlife At Risk International also paid tribute to Mr Gower on Facebook: "We are shocked by this unbelievably sad news and we extend our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Capt. Roger.

"This is a devastating loss that can never be replaced. We thank him for his commitment to the fight against poachers."

British helicopter pilot Roger Gower was working in Tanzania. Credit: Google maps

Mr Gower, 37, gave up a career as an accountant to train as a pilot in 2004.

After qualifying as an instructor he moved to east Africa in 2008 where he flew for a safari company and later for the British army training team in Kenya where he helped to clear live-firing ranges of large wildlife before exercises and carried out casualty evacuations.

Tanzanian ministers have flown to Arusha where Mr Gower's body is believed to have been taken, and have pledged to do everything in their power to arrest Mr Gower's killers.

Lazaro Nyalandu, a former Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism who knew Mr Gower tweeted: "Captain Roger represented the very best in human spirit. He loved peole and the wildlife, he died serving both.

"A fine-hearted individual gone too soon,our hearts are broken...those who killed him are still at large, everything must be done to bring them to justice."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Tanzania and are providing assistance to the family at this difficult time."

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