Assassination of famous US wildlife anti-poaching czar shocks East African conservation fraternity


The killing of the famous American anti-poaching investigator in Kenya last Sunday has brought shock among the wildlife conservation fraternity in Tanzania, bringing to 3 the number of foreign anti-poaching campaigners killed in East Africa in recent years.

Esmond Bradley-Martin, 75, prominent American investigator of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade, was assassinated in his home in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last Sunday.

Kenyan police said the US anti-poaching investigation crusader was found dead in his Nairobi home with a stab wound in his neck.

Mr. Esmond Bradley Martin had spent decades tracking the movement of animal products, mostly from Africa to markets in Asia.

“It’s a very big loss for conservation,” said Paula Kahumbu, chief executive of Wildlife Direct, an organization focused on protecting elephants in Kenya, as said through the media.

Before his untimely death, the US anti-poaching czar was about to publish a report exposing how the ivory trade had shifted from China to neighboring countries, Kahumbu said.

Mr. Esmond Bradley, the former UN special envoy for rhino conservation was found in his home on Sunday afternoon.

His research was instrumental in China’s decision to ban its legal rhino horn trade in 1993. It also pressured China to end legal ivory sales, a ban that came into force in January of this year.

“His work revealed the scale of the problem and made it impossible for the Chinese government to ignore,” said Kahumbu.

He was an expert on the prices of ivory and rhino horn, leading undercover investigations into markets in China and Southeast Asia where ivory and rhino horn markets are dominating.

Assassination of this famous American ant-poaching expert is a sequence and part of serial killings of foreign wildlife conservation experts in East Africa, the region reigned by corrupt conservation elements within the wildlife protection and management departments.

Tanzania, a closer neighbor to Kenya sharing wildlife resources through cross-border migrations, is the other elephant-range state in Africa where two foreign conservation and anti-poaching campaigners were killed in recent years.

In the sequence of assassinations and killings of anti-poaching crusaders, Mr. Roger Gower, 37, was killed when the helicopter he was piloting during an operation was gunned down in Maswa Game Reserve, near Tanzania’s famous Serengeti National Park late in January, 2016.

Mr. Gower, the British national was working with the charity Friedkin Conservation Fund, which was carrying out the anti-poaching mission jointly with Tanzanian authorities.

The other foreign anti-poaching crusader killed in East Africa was Mr. Wayne Lotter, a prominent South African-born wildlife conservationist working in Tanzania.

He was murdered in Tanzania’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam while on his way from Julius Nyerere International Airport to his in mid-August of last year (2017).

Aged 51, Wayne Lotter was shot by unknown assailants when his taxi was stopped by another vehicle where 2 men, one armed with a gun, opened his car door and shot him.

Before his untimely death, Wayne Lotter had received numerous death threats while battling international ivory-trafficking networks in Tanzania where more than 66,000 elephants have been killed during the past 10 years.

Wayne was a director and co-founder of the Protected Area Management System (PAMS) Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that provides conservation and anti-poaching support to communities and governments across Africa.

Media reports had exposed mysterious disappearances and threats to prominent personalities in recent years, rocking Tanzania and Kenya, a situation likely to create fear in this part of Africa.

These two neighboring African states of Tanzania and Kenya are both elephant and rhino-range states, sharing conservation resources as well as and travel itineraries, mostly for American and European tourists.

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