Over the next few weeks I am going to address “the elephant in the room” which is the poaching of these amazing animals and their bush colleagues the rhino.
Poaching is a criminal activity. There is a lot of money at stake. That money can corrupt officials. Combine those things and bad things happen to good people – heroes in my book.
About 6 weeks ago Roger Gower, a British Helicopter pilot who was looking for poachers near Serengeti National Park was killed when they came across a newly killed elephant. The helicopter he was piloting was shot at by poachers who were apparently still at the scene. A bullet from a .458 hunting rifle punctured the floor of the helicopter and ripped through Mr. Gower’s leg and shoulder. While he managed to land the helicopter, he died from his injuries before help could arrive.
After a weeklong manhunt that involved house-to-house searches in villages surrounding the reserve as well as more than 100 miles away, at least nine people have been arrested in connection with his death. First among those arrested was the gunman, a 28 year old resident of the area who led the police to the rifle, hidden on his roof, and to tusks he had taken from the elephant. That started the unraveling and eventually among the nine was a former police officer who used his current position as an intelligence officer with a regional conservation authority to help the poachers travel undetected. With the arrests, the authorities said, the ring has been dismantled.
Mr. Gower worked for the Friedkin Conservation Fund and grew up in Birmingham, England. After learning to fly helicopters in the U.S. he went to Tanzania used his skills to look over the animals he loved. His family has set up a crowd funding campaign in his honor that they intend to use to help combat poaching in Tanzania
In my eye Mr. Gower was a true hero. He should be remembered as such. And the fight he was part of should not cease until there are no poachers left on this planet.