The pilot, Roger Gower, was killed Friday while working with the Texas-based Friedkin Conservation Fund, in a joint effort with Tanzanian wildlife authorities, to "track down and arrest active elephant poachers," according to a statement on the group's website.
"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," Dan Friedkin, chairman of the group, said in the statement. "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."Gower was flying in the Maswa Game Reserve, near Serengeti National Park, trying to track down poachers who had killed an elephant, according to tweets from Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanzania's former minister for natural resources and tourism. Gower managed to land the helicopter after being hit by fire from an AK-47. Gower "sadly died before his rescue," Nyalandu wrote.
"You loved our country and I knew you on many flights we took together in defence of our wildlife heritage."Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the death of a Briton in Tanzania and said it was "providing assistance to the family at this difficult time," the Associated Press reported.
Poaching is fueled by a demand for ivory from Asia, according to the World Wildlife Federation. Yet demand for ivory in China appears to be falling, according to a December report from Save the Elephants, which notes that the price for ivory has fallen by nearly half since 2014.