It is the same type of assault weapon used to take our elephants down on the “African continent”, the AK47. Only this time poachers aimed their fire at a “true hero” among humans who was devoting his life to saving African elephants in the battle for the very existence of the species. One shot was fired up through the hovering helicopter after its pilot Roger Gower, age 37, discovered “a third elephant carcass” in his vicinity, on the ground, indicating active poaching within the 24 hours that just passed.
Devastatingly the bullet proved to be fatal but not before Mr. Gower was able to prevent the death of his colleague Nicky Bester by maneuvering the crash of his helicopter into the branches of a tree (thus preventing an explosion upon impact). (The friends, pilot and “spotter,” were on an anti poaching mission in the Serengeti National Park as a part of the Friedkin Conservation Fund and their efforts to save African elephants and other endangered wildlife in an area that encompasses 6.1 million acres in Africa.)
Although 5 suspects have since been arrested African Elephants have lost a mighty presence in their lives as few humans have abandoned an ordinary existence (Roger Gower had been an accountant in the UK) for an extraordinary one fighting for our elephants as a bush pilot in Africa (he started at Tropic Air, see their tribute here, for a 4 and ½ year journey and had recently “started flying for a cause he truly believed in” with the Friedkin Conservation Fund in Tanzania.)
“Between 2009 and 2014 Tanzania, Africa lost 60 per cent of its elephant population, according to a government census.” Illegal ivory trafficking has been fueled by a demand from China and south east Asia where the tusks from elephants are used for medicinal or ornamental value and in Africa, militia groups, which are rampant there, have “made it a business” to “fund their wars” with “very lucrative” blood ivory (slaughtering elephants).
“It is estimated that more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their tusks every year across Africa.”
He was “a great guy with a brilliant sense of humor. I loved his British cockney accent and really dry sense of humor”. Pratik Patel, Director of The Friedkin Conservation Fund and “close friend” of Mr. Gower
As tributes continue to pour in to honor the man (Prince William “was very saddened to hear of yet more lives lost due to poaching”) who gave his life for his love of elephants (and wildlife conservation) humans can never begin to thank him.
But there is one special accolade that can only come from our elephants. Let it be said that as humans continue to fight the battle to save our elephants Roger Gower will never be forgotten. His legacy will shine forever among the stars even in the darkest night.
For more information, videos, and more tributes please see the following resources:
“ A Just Giving page has been launched in his name to help Anti Poaching efforts in Tanzania. #flyhighcaptainroger “