The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) has received with profound shock and sadness the news of the death of Dr. Esmond Bradley Martin, a member of the Society’s Board of Directors. He also served in the editorial board of the Society’s flagship magazine, Swara. Dr. Martin was 75.
He was found dead in his house on Sunday, 4th February 2018 with a stab wound apparently inflicted by unknown assailants who intruded into his home in the Lang’ata suburb of Nairobi, according to initial reports.
Dr. Martin, who was born in New York City, was the face behind bringing international attention to the illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory, authoring meticulously researched reports on the trade, including crucial ones on ivory and rhino markets in China, Vietnam and Laos.
Always soft-spoken, tall and lanky, with his trademark shock of white hair, Dr. Martin realized early that there was a huge illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory from poached animals when he arrived at the Kenyan coast to carry out research for his PhD in Geography in the 1960s. Accompanied by his wife Chryssee, the couple was then in their 20s.
Since then they have worked together, publishing many scientific papers including their highly acclaimed coffee-table book published in 1982, Run Rhino Run. It received rave reviews as the first lavishly illustrated book with a single aspect — trade in a species that has been on the planet for the past 60 million years.
Dr. Martin insisted that saving the rhino depends on political will and the seriousness of leaders.
In 1992, Mr. was appointed United Nations as Special Envoy for the Rhinoceros and tasked with meeting with heads of state to impress on them the need to take action to protect the endangered mega-herbivore.
“I would like my old job as the UN rhino envoy to be taken over by someone and for the person to go and meet the number one person – the head of state in each of the rhino range states and consuming countries to improve conservation of these animals. Such an approach should not fail,” Mr. Martin told Swara in an interview in 2016. He was one of the magazine’s expert contributors on rhino and elephant conservation.
EAWLS sends its heartfelt condolences his wife, Chryssee, and other members of his family.