Prince William “very saddened” by Roger Gower’s death

Roger Gower
Roger Gower was taking part in an anti-poaching operation with authorities in Tanzania

The Duke of Cambridge has released a statement saying he is “very saddened” by the death of British helicopter pilot, Roger Gower, who was shot dead by elephant poachers in Tanzania.

It has been revealed that despite being mortally wounded, the heroic pilot saved his colleague’s life by fighting to land safely before dying.

The 37 year old was flying at low-level during an anti-poaching mission searching for gunmen who had killed three elephants when they broke cover and shot at him from the ground with a high-calibre rifle.

One of the bullets is believed to have passed up through the aluminium and fibre-glass helicopter’s floor, firstly hitting Mr Gower in the leg and then the shoulder before exiting through the roof.

Despite his injury, he managed to bring the damaged helicopter down into a tree before it hit land. In doing so, he prevented it from exploding and therefore saved the life of his South African colleague, Nicky Bester who was able to jump to safety as the aircraft came to land and hid from the poachers in a thicket.

The Duke, who is himself a helicopter pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance Service and has campaigned against the poaching trade in Africa, said that although he did not personally know Mr Gower, through a statement from Kensington Palace said he was “very saddened to hear of yet more lives lost due to poaching.”

Friends and family have also been paying tribute to the pilot over social media.