Wildlife advocate, Esmond Bradley Martin was found dead by his wife in their home in Nairobi, Kenya. Esmond worked for years to uncover illegal ivory and rhino horn trade throughout the world. Originally from New York, he arrived in Kenya in the 1970’s when huge numbers of elephants were being killed for their tusks.
For the past decades, he’s been one of the world’s leading ivory investigators. According to the BBC, police believe the death of the 75-year-old was due to a botched robbery where he was stabbed in the neck; however investigators are looking into whether Esmond’s influential work in investigating illegal ivory and rhino horn trade is the ultimate cause.
Esmond worked undercover in some of the world’s most dangerous locations, forcing him to interact with drug barons and gangsters. He photographed illegal ivory markets, spoke with traffickers, and helped global conservation policy makers by calculating black market prices. In the 1990’s, his work was integral in banning the domestic trade of ivory and sale of rhino horn in China.
He traveled with collaborator, Lucy Vigne to China, Laos, and Vietnam. The pair’s research revealed Laos is the fastest growing market for ivory trade in the world. Save The Elephants funded this project. The two also recently returned from an investigation in Myanmar. Esmond was allegedly writing up notes on that trip when he was murdered.
Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton said: “Esmond was one of conservation’s great unsung heroes.
“His meticulous work into ivory and rhino horn markets was conducted often in some of the world’s most remote and dangerous places and against intensely busy schedules that would have exhausted a man half his age.
“During his 18 years with Save The Elephants, Esmond – alongside his research partners – produced ten crucial reports into legal and illegal ivory markets.”
Bob Godec, US ambassador to Kenya, commented that Esmond’s death is a tragedy not only for Kenya but the world: “His extraordinary research had a profound impact and advanced efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking across the planet.
“African wildlife has lost a great friend, but Esmond’s legacy in conservation will endure for years to come.”