Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Ape academic shot dead in Ecuador

Dr Samphire
Dr Samphire's body was found near a village in Ecuador

A conservationist from Bristol has been shot dead while researching a threatened species of primates, in Ecuador, South America.

Ben Samphire died on Monday afternoon, close to the village of El Palmar.

The 31-year-old PhD graduate was hoping for a career in primate conservation, his former supervisor said.

Police are reportedly trying to establish if he was killed by a local landowner who may have mistaken him for a robber.

In a statement Dr Samphire's former supervisor Professor Stephen Shennan, of University College London, said: "Ben Samphire was a very bright and engaging young man who ploughed his own furrow.

"Ben had decided that he wanted to work at a more practical level and decided to pursue a career in primate conservation. In order to do so he needed to gain experience as a volunteer and so went to Ecuador.

"I held him in enormous regard and liked him very much. His death is deeply saddening to me and to all his friends."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman added: "We can confirm the death of a British national at Pedernales, in Ecuador on 24 February. The next of kin have been informed and we are providing consulate assistance."

Pedernales, on the country's Pacific coast, is a major attraction for biologists from around the globe because of its forests and nature reserve.

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Western Daily Press West researcher shot dead in Ecuador - 25 hrs ago
Biggleswade Chronicle Conservationist shot dead in Ecuador - 34 hrs ago
The Scotsman Briton studying rare species is shot dead - 39 hrs ago
Daily Express Briton shot dead in Ecuador - 41 hrs ago

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