American anti-poaching investigator stabbed to death in Kenya

NAIROBI, Feb 5 (Reuters) - A prominent American investigator of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade has been found dead in his Nairobi home with a stab wound in his neck, media reported.

Esmond Bradley-Martin, 75, 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.

He had been about to publish a report exposing how the ivory trade had shifted from China to neighboring countries, Kahumbu added.

The former U.N. special envoy for rhino conservation was found in his home on Sunday afternoon, friends said.

See images of Esmond Bradley-Martin:

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Anti-poaching investigator stabbed to death in Kenya
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Anti-poaching investigator stabbed to death in Kenya
Ivory researchers Lucy Vigne (R) and Esmond Martin (L) and Iain Douglas -Hamilton, founder of Save The Elephants (STE) give a press conference to present a report documenting the decline of the wholesale price of raw ivory in China, on March 29, 2017 in Nairobi. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Dr. Esmond Martin of Care for the Wild International holds a news conference at the National Press Club to release the 'Wild Ivory Report' which 'identifies the US as one of the world's leading ivory markets' on May 5, 2008 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivory researchers Esmond Martin (L) and Iain Douglas -Hamilton, founder of Save The Elephants (STE) give a press conference to present a report documenting the decline of the wholesale price of raw ivory in China, on March 29, 2017 in Nairobi. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Ivory researchers Esmond Martin (L) and Iain Douglas -Hamilton, founder of Save The Elephants (STE) give a press conference to present a report documenting the decline of the wholesale price of raw ivory in China, on March 29, 2017 in Nairobi. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Dr. Esmond Martin of Care for the Wild International holds a news conference at the National Press Club to release the 'Wild Ivory Report' which 'identifies the US as one of the world's leading ivory markets' on May 5, 2008 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dr. Esmond Martin of Care for the Wild International holds a news conference at the National Press Club to release the 'Wild Ivory Report' which 'identifies the US as one of the world's leading ivory markets' on May 5, 2008 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Bradley-Martin's 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 on January 1.

"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.

He is the second prominent conservationist to die in East Africa in the past year. South African Wayne Lotter, whose work targeted ivory smuggling from Africa to Asia, was shot dead in Tanzania in August.

There was no immediate comment from police. (Reporting By Maggie Fick; Additional reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

RELATED: Kenya burns confiscated ivory

24 PHOTOS
Kenya burns confiscated ivory
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Kenya burns confiscated ivory
Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo
A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger stacks elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi and Winnie Kiiru, Country director of Stop Ivory, stack an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya??
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
A Kenya Wildlife Services ranger guards the burning of an estimated 105 tonnes of Elephant tusks confiscated ivory from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A traditional Maasai tribesman holds an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A contractor carries an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, are stacked onto pyres at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
A contractor carries an elephant tusk, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger walks past a burning part of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers stack elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A contractor carries elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger arranges elephant tusks inside a shipping container at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Contractors carry elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, to a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya?
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers carry elephant tusks at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers carry elephant tusks at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers guard elephant ivory at their headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) ranger stacks elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, on a pyre at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya April 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
Elephant tusks are loaded on a pick-up truck at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters as part of an estimated 106 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze in Kenya's capital Nairobi April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Elephant tusks, part of an estimated 105 tonnes of confiscated ivory to be set ablaze, are stacked onto pyres at Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo
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