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Monday 16 December 2019

US investigator of ivory and rhino horn trade stabbed to death in Kenya

Esmond Bradley Martin was hailed as a champion of pachyderms who are hunted for their tusks and horns.

Esmond Martin was found with stab wounds at his house in the Kenyan capital (AP)
Esmond Martin was found with stab wounds at his house in the Kenyan capital (AP)

By Tom Odula

A leading American investigator into the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade has been found stabbed to death in his home in the Kenyan capital.

Esmond Bradley Martin was found dead with a stab wound to his neck at his house in Nairobi after a relative went to check on him after he did not respond to phone calls, police said.

Conservationist Paula Kahumbu said Mr Martin led investigations into the illegal trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn that threatens the two species with extinction.

He was at the forefront of exposing ivory traffickers in the US, Congo, Vietnam, Nigeria, Angola, China and recently Burma, Ms Kahumbu said.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey said in a Twitter post: “A passionate and committed man who made a big difference to our planet. May he rest in peace.”

Conservation group Save the Elephants described Mr Martin as “a longtime ally”, a passionate champion of wildlife and a meticulous researcher.

Illicit demand for elephant ivory has led to devastating losses from illegal poaching as the natural habitat available for the animals to roam has also dwindled by more than half. As a result, the number of African elephants has shrunk from about five million a century ago to about 400,000 – a number which continues to decline each year.

Less than 30,000 rhinos are estimated to remain in the wild due to poaching.

The price of rhino horn skyrocketed as demand has grown in Asian countries, mainly China and Vietnam, where consumers wrongly believe that the horn – made of the same substance as fingernails – has powerful healing properties. Syndicates from Vietnam, China, South Korea and Thailand have been identified as being involved in the trafficking.

PA Media

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