The vicious murder of anti-elephant poaching activist Esmond Martin in Kenya last weekend is the second murder of a high-profile white anti-ivory trade activist in Africa, coming as it does only five months after the shooting assassination of Tanzanian-based Wayne Lotter.
Martin, who was stabbed to death at his home in Nairobi, Kenya, was famous for his decades-long activism to save Africa’s elephant population from the uncaring rampage of African poachers who supply the Far East with illegal ivory.
Esmond Martin and his beloved elephants.
According to statistics issued by his affiliated organization, Save the Elephants (STE), without urgent action to save their species, elephants could be gone from the wild within a single generation.
According to STE, 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory in just three years between the years 2010 and 2012.
In 1979 there were 1.3 million elephants, but current estimates that there are just between 419,000 and 650,000 African elephants left alive—and overall, their numbers are still “catastrophically declining.”
Martin, a UK national by birth, was one of STE’s most famous activists, and the world’s leading ivory trade expert. STE said in a statement that his surveys “shone a powerful spotlight on the wildlife markets around the world that are sucking ivory, rhino horn and countless other African species into their maw.
“By charting the scale of these markets and tracking fluctuations with rigour and consistency, he provided a solid foundation for action to close them down. On Friday he was in our office, excited to see the Laotian translation of his latest report into Laos’ growing trade, and eager to discuss how it could be used to greatest effect,” the statement continued.
“Conservation has lost an important figure, elephants have lost a great champion and the shock of Esmond’s death will be felt around the world.”
Wayne Lotter was a South African- wildlife conservationist who was the co-founder and president of conservation organisation the PAMS (Protected Area Management Solutions) Foundation.
Lotter’s organization was involved in funding the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit in Tanzania which pursued a number of high-profile ivory traffickers, and regularly received death threats.
His most high-profile success was in 2015 when his intelligence work left to the the arrest of a Chinese woman, Yang Feng Glan, known as the “Queen of Ivory” who ran a $2.6m ivory smuggling ring along with a large number of Chinese nationals living in Africa.
Lotter was shot dead on August 16, 2017 while travelling in a taxi in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in what was clearly a targeted assassination.
Chinese poachers arrested in Tanzania thanks to Lotter’s work
Although the international trade in ivory was banned in terms of a 1990 agreement organized by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Chinese government only finally banned the trade on January 1, 2018.
However, the demand is as strong as ever in other Asian nations such as Loas, which, according to STE, is now the world’s number one market for ivory. According to Martin’s last report, Laos is the “world’s fastest growing ivory market.”
“In the absence of effective law enforcement, the sales of ivory items to Chinese consumers will continue to rise,” Martin wrote in that report, adding that Chinese buyers are getting around a domestic ivory ban on the mainland by shopping in neighboring countries.
“International criminal syndicates are involved in ivory trafficking, which encourages, and is encouraged by, corruption across Africa,” the report also said.
The poaching problem in Africa is being exacerbated by that continents’ explosive population growth, STE has also admitted.
“Human population growth is a reality that conservationists must reckon with. Africa’s human population is expected to nearly double by the year 2050,” STE said in a Facebook post on June 8, 2017.
This African population growth is caused primarily by Western “foreign aid” which lowers the infant mortality rate in Africa but which is incapable to getting the larger African population to provide work or even continue to feed itself.
As a result, the lure of easy-money criminal activities—such as poaching on behalf of the Asian market—is a natural “fall-back” position to survive (this is, along with a genetically-based low IQ, one of the major factors which underpins high African criminal rates in America and Europe).
The murders of the two high-profile white anti-ivory trade activists Martin and Lotter are the most outwardly obvious results of this deep criminality.
The primary causes of the decimation the African elephant population are therefore the disproportionate African birth rate, and the continuing demand for ivory in the Far East. Until both these problems are addressed, the issue is not going to go away, and can only end with the extermination of elephants—and indeed all wildlife—in Africa.