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Top Ivory investigator killed in Kenya

United Nations special ambassador for rhino conservation, Esmond Bradley Martin BBC United Nations special ambassador for rhino conservation, Esmond Bradley Martin

Huge loss to the international conservation community

February 05, 2018

Staff Reporter

Kenya: One of the world's leading investigators into the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn, Esmond Bradley Martin (75) has been killed in Kenya.

Martin who was also the United Nations special ambassador for rhino conservation, was found with a stab wound to his neck at home in the capital Nairobi on Sunday (February 04, 2018).

Martin was known for his undercover work establishing black-market prices.

His lifeless body was found by wife in their house in Langata.

The police are investigating the circumstances but suspect it was a botched robbery.

He was reported to had recently returned from a research trip to Myanmar.

Martin was in the process of writing up his findings when he died, reported BBC's Alastair Leithead from Nairobi.

Martin had spent decades risking his life to secretly photograph and document the illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn, travelling to China, Vietnam, and Laos to pose as a buyer - helping to find out the level of black market prices.

He first went to Kenya from the US in the 1970s when there was an upwelling in the number of elephants being killed for their ivory.

His work on illegal wildlife markets helped pressure China to ban the rhino horn trade in the 1990s, and domestic sales of ivory, which came into force this year.

He was a well-known and highly respected in the conservation community.

In a major report last year from Laos, he and his colleague, Lucy Vigne revealed that the country (Kenya) had the world's fastest growing ivory trade.

They risked their own safety staying at a Chinese casino inhabited by gangsters and traffickers in order to visit the illegal markets and find out the latest prices by posing as dealers.

His life's work was combating the illegal trade of wildlife and he produced a huge body of highly respected research and investigative reports.