Friday, March 23, 2007

Tribute to a great conservationist

It's six months since a tragic helicopter crash in Nepal killed all 24 on board.
It was the worst-ever helicopter accident in Nepal, and one of those on board was my sister, Australian scientist Dr Jill Bowling.
Jill was the UK director of conservation for the WWF, and died together with other WWF officials, the Nepalese Minister of State for Forests, Gopal Rai, his wife, senior officials of the Forest Ministry, Nepalese wildlife experts, two journalists and four crew members.
The helicopter was a Russian-built Mi-17, chartered by the WWF conservation organisation to transport V.I.P's to a function marking the hand back a conserved area - known as the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area - to a local community in far eastern Nepal.
The hand back ceremony had just taken place and the V.I.P. party boarded the helicopter in Ghunsa, a village in Taplejung district, for the return trip to Nepal's capital Kathmandu.
Soon after takeoff the helicopter crashed in a rugged mountainous region dominated by ravines and gorges.
It took two days for search teams to reach the crash site on foot.
Soon after confirmed news of Jill's death my father and I flew to Nepal. On route I wrote this tribute which was published in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Many people have read this tribute and contacted my family to offer their condolences. I deeply appreciate the overwhelming response and extend the invitation to leave further comments here.
Also visit the WWF -UK and search for Jill Bowling.

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