The Star (Kenya)

Esmond Bradley Martin was found murdered in his Karen home in Nairobi on Sunday.
Esmond Bradley Martin was found murdered in his Karen home in Nairobi on Sunday.

Three workers of the killed ivory trade investigator Esmond Bradley Martin were yesterday arrested by the police.

Police sought orders from the courts to hold the gardeners and cook longer over the mysterious murder of the 75-year-old American.

At the same, detectives from the homicide unit yesterday took over the investigations.

A source familiar with the investigations said the arrested workers were off duty last Sunday when Esmond was killed by unknown people. Only one of the cooks was on duty on the fateful day.

Esmond, was found dead at his house in Karen on Sunday afternoon.

The conservationist, who was alone in the house at the time, was stabbed once in the neck.

The Star spoke to close friends who revealed Esmond had been compiling a report on the state of the Nairobi National Park before he died.

Some of his notes regarding the park were found missing after his murder. Nothing else was stolen and his other notes on ivory trade were left intact.

“He has unusually visited the park daily over the last one month,” said a colleague who sought anonymity.

They described him as non-confrontational, an avid notes taker and compulsive evidence gatherer.

On Sunday he spent the entire morning at NNP before joining the Friends of Nairobi National Park for barbecue at the Club House within the park. He later left at 2.30pm. His wife, who reported the death, said she found her husband’s lifeless body after coming from a nature walk at around 4pm.

Esmond has authored several ground-breaking investigative reports on rhino and ivory smuggling in Kenya and the trade in China, Vietnam, and Laos.

“We have already questioned a gardener and a cook who are employed at the home,” Kamwende said.

Esmond, an American geographer, had been travelling all over the world with his wife, Chryssee Martin, and colleagues Lucy Vigne and Dan Stiles.

They were on a mission to identify ivory and rhino markets, the traffickers and the modern-day uses.

He was a one time UN special envoy for rhino conservation.

Among his achievements was helping persuade China to shut down its legal rhino horn trade in 1993 and ivory trade last year.

His last report, Decline in the Legal Ivory Trade in China in Anticipation of a Ban, was published by conservation group Save The Elephants last year.

The 88-page report was co-authored by consultant Lucy Vigne.

It revealed that the 130 licensed outlets in China have been gradually reducing the quantity of ivory items on display for sale, and recently have been cutting prices to improve sales.

“With the end of the legal ivory trade in China, the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved. We must give credit to China for doing the right thing by closing the ivory trade,” Esmond told the Star last year.

He first came to East Africa in the 1970s when there had been a huge slaughter of elephants in the region, followed in the 1980s by rhinos.

“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?” Esmond told the Nomad Magazine last year.

Read:Top ivory investigator Esmond Martin killed in Nairobi