Esmond Bradley Martin, a leading expert on illegal poaching and animal conversation, was found with a stab wound to his neck at home in Nairobi, Kenya on Sunday.
According to the BBC, Martin was killed while writing up his findings from a recent research trip in Myanmar, Burma.
Martin's wife, who lives in a separate building on the couple's compound, discovered his body. An investigation into the matter has already begun, with police suggesting the situation appears to be a botched robbery.
Police boss Cunningham Suiyanka said “there was no disturbance of the scene."
Martin's career, which began in the 70's in Kenya, had been spent researching illegal sales of ivory and rhino horn. He often went undercover as a buyer to obtain photos of the black market, immersing himself in underground casinos and gangster hideouts to collect evidence. The 75-year-old had previously travelled to China, Vietnam, and Laos for his work. In a 2017 report, he declared Laos as the location with the fastest growing retail market for ivory. His efforts played a part in the official banning of domestic ivory sales in China in the 1990's (which took effect this year).
Because of his work, Martin was a well-respected (if not eccentrically dressed) individual amongst conservationists.
"Esmond was at the forefront of exposing the scale of ivory markets in USA, Congo, Nigeria, Angola, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos and recently Myanmar. He always collaborated with Save the Elephants and worked with many of us generously sharing his findings & views,” wrote Dr. Paula Kahumbu, an elephant expert and CEO of Wildlife Direct, on social media.
"Esmond was known for absolute rigour and painstaking precision in his methodology and reporting," said Lisa Rolls, who leads UN Environment's Wild for Life campaign. "He was always willing to lend his decades of expertise to explore approaches to tackling the illegal wildlife trade with complete objectivity. Esmond's commitment to securing a future for wild rhinos and elephants was steadfast. To lose such a gentle and wise conservationist in this way is a shocking tragedy."
According to USA Today, police official Ireri Kamwende noted that the residence's gardner and cook have been questioned.