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Police in Tanzania have arrested three suspects accused of killing a British helicopter pilot who was shot at by elephant poachers he was tracking. Roger Gower was flying a helicopter during an operation to track active poachers in Maswa Game Reserve, which borders the Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania.
The pilot had identified an elephant carcass that he believed may have been poached when he came under fire. According to reports from the east African nation, one shot was fired that went through the floor of the helicopter, then into Gower's leg and part of his shoulder.
Remarkably he was able to land the helicopter but died before he could be rescued, Tanzanian MP and former minister for natural resources and tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu said in a tweet. He said: "Capt Roger, a British national, was shot mid-air by poachers AK47, managed to land his chopper but sadly died before his rescue last night."
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Jumanne Maghembe said that three men had been arrested. "Soon more people making up the poaching gang will be netted and brought to justice," he said, according to AFP.
Officials from the national park said that three elephant carcasses had been found in the area. Poachers have been known to conduct elephant hunting on a large scale in the area, using sophisticated military style weaponry.
Gower's brother, Max, told the BBC: "He would not have gone anywhere near those poachers if he'd known that they were armed. As I understand it, he knew they were around but came across them by accident. He didn't really have enough time to evaluate the situation before they opened fire on him.
"He had a very strong moral compass. He just loved having fun, he couldn't be with his friends without making sure that everybody had fun," he added
The Friedkin Fund, that says elephant poaching is especially prevalent in the national park, with rangers encountering ivory poachers regularly. Dan Friedkin, chairman of the Friedkin Conservation Fund said in a statement: "We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our dear friend. 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."