Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WWF Update on Helicopter Tragedy

The World Wildlife Fund sent out this update about the helicopter crash in Nepal which took the lives of seven WWF staff members and conservation partners.

It is with great sadness that I must inform you, our supporters, of a significant loss within the WWF family. Early Monday morning, we received word from our office in Nepal that seven WWF staff members, along with important partners in our conservation work, appear to have died in a helicopter crash in the mountains near Ghunsa. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones at this time of profound loss.

The helicopter was returning from a celebratory event that saw the Nepalese government hand over the conservation of the wildlife and habitats surrounding Kangchenjunga – a place known for its beauty, biodiversity and rich cultural heritage – to a coalition of local communities.

The wreckage of the helicopter was found Monday, after two days of searching in poor weather conditions and rough terrain, and sadly it appears there were no survivors.

To the families and friends of Chandra Gurung, Mingma Norbu Sherpa, Harka Gurung, Yeshi Lama, Jill Bowling Schlaepfer, Jennifer Headley and Matthew Preece - we share your grief, and offer our promise that they will not be forgotten and that their work will continue. These were people who had dedicated their lives to conserving the extraordinary natural resources of Nepal and the Earth.
They are conservation heroes and will be sorely missed by all of us.

Since this news broke, WWF has received messages of condolence from around the world – from members, partners, media groups, other conservation organizations and the public. We thank you all for your kind words and take strength from your compassion.

Mike Russill

President and CEO, WWF-Canada

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