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February 11, 2018

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US wildlife protector found murdered

ESMOND Bradley Martin, a Kenya-based American conservationist whose dogged investigations of the elephant ivory and rhino horn trades over decades were seen as critical in efforts to protect the threatened species, was found stabbed to death in his Nairobi home, Kenyan authorities said recently.

International conservationists were shaken by news. Martin sometimes worked undercover, and at considerable personal risk, while still managing to extract valuable information from traders and dealers.

The motive for the killing of Martin, who was in his mid-70s, was unclear. There was no immediate suggestion from authorities of a link to his work, which often delved into the illegal activities of traders and traffickers whose exploitation of African ivory and rhino horn for international buyers.

The area in Langata, the Nairobi suburb where Martin lived, has some security barriers and guards on main roads. However, some properties are large with big gardens that could be accessible to an intruder.

It is noted that the conservationist didn’t appear to be slowing down despite his advancing years. Martin once talked animatedly for about an hour in an interview, leafing through research papers and reeling off statistics about rhino poaching.

Martin, often working with co-investigator Lucy Vigne, conducted many surveys for the “Save the Elephants” conservation group that “shone a powerful spotlight on the wildlife markets around the world that are sucking ivory, rhino horn and countless other African species into their maw,” the group said. Martin Mulama, a rhino expert with the WWF conservation group, said the American did the legwork to prove rumors about the illegal wildlife trade, thereby encouraging officials to take action.



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