Top U.S. Conservationist And Ivory Trade Investigator Esmond Bradley Martin Killed In Kenya Home

A world-renowned U.S. conservationist and investigator into the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade has been killed in Kenya. 

Esmond Bradley Martin, 75, was found with a stab wound to his neck at his home in Langata, Kenya, on Sunday. 

The investigator had previously worked as a United Nations special envoy for rhino conservation. He was celebrated for his efforts uncovering black market prices for rhino horns and ivory. 

GettyImages-80991466 Dr. Esmond Bradley Martin holds a conference to release the 'Wild Ivory Report,' which identified the U.S. as one of the world's leading ivory markets in 2008 TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty

His work on illegal wildlife markets provided countries, such as China, with data to help shut trade down. 

Martin had been in the process of writing his findings after a research trip to Myanmar when he was killed, according to the BBC. His body was found by his wife. 

Read more: Why China's decision to ban ivory trade is 'game changer' in fight to save the elephant

Police are still investigating the circumstances around his death, but reportedly suspect he died in an attempted robbery. 

In an interview with Nomad Magazine last year, Martin said he had first arrived in Africa in the 1970s folllowing the widespread slaughter of elephants and later, rhinos, across the continent. 

"In Kenya, there were around 20,000 rhinos in 1970, but by the 1990s, most of the rhinos had been eliminated. The puzzle was: why were all these rhinos being killed, and where was the horn going?" he said. 

At the time, he was hopeful that countries could "turn rhino poaching around" if they were willing to dedicate "the proper resources" to conservation.

Top conservationists around the world have been paying tribute to the researcher. 

"Very few knew much about these issues better than Esmond," UN Environment Deputy Director Maxwell Gomera said in a statement. 

"Even fewer have pursued these issues with such dedication and commitment. The fight to save wildlife has lost one of its most committed soldiers," he added.

"It is with deep shock and horror that we learn this morning of the death of long-time conservationist, Esmond Bradley Martin," CEO of Wildlife Direct Dr. Paula Kahumbu wrote on Twitter. 

"Esmond was at the forefront of exposing the scale of ivory markets in U.S.A., Congo, Nigeria, Angola, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and recently, Myanmar," she said. 

Save The Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton said Martin "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," Douglas-Hamilton added.

"He played a key role in revealing the price of ivory in China had fallen prior to the Chinese Government committing to close its legal domestic market, and was working on important research on Myanmar when he died. He was my friend for 45 years and his loss is a terrible blow both personally and professionally.”