A tragic loss…Colonel Avi Sivan dies in chopper crash

Posted on November 23, 2010

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Colonel Avi Sivan

I’ve just received the sad news that Colonel Avi Sivan, the director of Ape Action Africa in Cameroon, West Africa, has died in a helicopter crash today.

He was flying between the main cities of Douala and Yaoundé with a local army commander, who also died in the incident.

I’ve never met Sivan, but the project manager of the sanctuary in Mefou National Park, Rachel Hogan, spoke very highly of him and his wife Talila, when I met up with her during a brief visit to the UK.

It’s one of the places I am hoping to visit next spring. I only spoke to Rachel  three weeks ago and it feels surreal to hear about this. I’m absolutely stunned and saddened that conservation has lost another hero. My thoughts and prays are with his family and friends.

Sivan had a passion for wildlife which led him, and his wife to become closely involved in the charity, Ape Action Africa (AAA). They ploughed a lot of their personal time and money into the primate sanctuary in Mefou, near the capital Yaoundé. Here, more than 250 monkeys and apes (chimpanzees and gorillas) are rehabilitated.

Doug Cress, the executive director of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA), which AAA is a member of said: “He was a true friend of not only conservation, but of wildlife protection and the battle against illegal trade, and he often went out of his way to extend a helping hand to primates in need. He was a wonderful man, and he will be profoundly missed.”

Staff at the sanctuary have  also expressed their shock and sadness at the news.

Sivan was a former commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Duvdevan unit, and served as a security advisor for the Cameroon government and President Paul Biya. Other duties included being in charge of training Cameroon’s famous presidential guard brigade unit.

His is survived by his wife and his body is being flown back to Israel for burial.

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Posted in: A tribute