Death of Pilot Highlights Tanzania’s Struggle with Poaching

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The world of conservation was shocked last week by the death of helicopter pilot, Roger Gower. Mr. Gower was shot and killed while conducting an anti-poaching surveillance over Tanzania’s Maswa Game Reserve.

This tragedy adds to the list of recent poaching related deaths in Tanzania. At least five people connected to the incident have already been arrested, including the suspect directly responsible for the murder. Further arrests are expected as this poaching network is uncovered. Tanzania’s elephant population has experienced serious declines over past years in the face of increased poaching.

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Photo: Gary Roberts, REX Shutterstock

Mr. Gower worked for the Friedkin Conservation Fund (FCF). SCI Foundation started a long-term partnership with the FCF back in 2008 to finance the donation of a microlight aircraft. The flyer assists with anti-poaching surveillance over 9 million acres of protected area in Tanzania. For more information on that project and the FCF, click here to read on our blog First for Wildlife.

Each year, dozens of rangers are killed in the line of duty. According to the Thin Green Line Foundation, over 1,000 park rangers have been killed in the past 10 years alone. This is a global issue, with 60% of all rangers killed last year in Asia. The International Ranger Federation keeps an Honor Roll dedicated to rangers all around the world who lost their life. It is important to remember and support those who serve to protect wildlife every day.

This incident reminds us of the courage of those fighting on the frontline of poaching. Our condolences go out to the Gower family, friends and the FCF community.

For more information from the Friedkin Conservation Fund, please go to http://friedkinfund.org/. Want to learn more about poaching and its toll on park rangers? Read this article from the IUCN.

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Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for more SCI Foundation news.

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