Four Tanzanians accused of involvement in the death of a British helicopter pilot have been jailed for at least 15 years for illegally possessing weapons.

Roger Gower, 37, who worked for a conservation fund, had been flying near an elephant killed by poachers when his helicopter came under fire last month.

The murder trial itself is due to be held separately in a higher court.

Tanzania lost 60% of its elephant population between 2009 and 2014, mainly due to poaching, officials say.

The four men, among nine people in total charged in connection with Mr Gower’s death, pleaded guilty on Thursday to “unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition” at a court in Tanzania’s main city Dar es Salaam.

They each received prison sentences ranging between 15 and 20 years.

Mr Gower was originally from Birmingham in the UK and worked in London before moving to East Africa to work as a helicopter pilot.

He was shot down in the Maswa Game Reserve, which borders the world-famous Serengeti National Park in northern Tanzania.

Mr Gower managed to land his helicopter but died from his wounds before he could be rescued.

source: BBC