Colonel (res.) Avi Sivan was killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Cameroon, along with a local army commander.
Sivan, a former commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Duvdevan elite unit, resided in recent years in the central African country, where he erved as a security advisor for the local government and managed a unique gorilla shelter with his wife Talila.
The circumstances of the crash near the capital city of Yaoundé are unclear. According to local reports, the crash took place as Sivan was making his way to the city of Bamenda to supervise soldiers of the Cameroon military's elite unit. The unit's commander was also killed in the accident.
Cameroon media media reported that the Foreign Ministry was working to transfer Sivan's body to Israel.
Sivan served in the past as head of a Defense Ministry delegation to Cameroon. After retiring from the army he decided to immigrate to the African country with his wife, the Cameroon Today website reported.
Sivan served as security advisor to Cameroon's President Paul Biya and as a consultant for the Cameroon military. Among other duties, he was in charge of the training of Cameroon's famous presidential guard brigade unit.
The Sivan couple established the gorilla shelter, sponsored by the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund, in the Mefou forest. Many of the site's volunteers are Israelis.
According to its website, Mefou National Park is home to more than 250 primates and is engages in rescuing orphaned or injured gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys, providing them with individual care, and giving them a safe forest sanctuary home where they can live with their own kind.
Diplomatic relations between Israel and Cameroon developed in the early 1960s and were severed in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War.
The countries renewed their ties 13 years later and are said to have extensive trade relations. In addition, Israel has provided Cameroon with financial aid in its war on poverty in the country.