A Chinese businesswoman known as the “Ivory Queen” in Tanzania has been jailed for smuggling elephant tusks.
Yang Fenglan, 69, was accused of running one of the biggest ivory-smuggling rings in Africa responsible for smuggling US$2.5 million worth of elephant tusks, the BBC reported. She reportedly oversaw the smuggling of about 800 pieces of ivory from the east African nation to the Far East from 2000 to 2014.
A court in Dar es Salaam, the country’s main city, ordered her property to be repossessed. Yang had been under investigation ever since she was arrested after a high-speed car chase.
A businesswoman who owned a Chinese restaurant and an investment company in Dar es Salaam, Yang had been living in Tanzania since the 1970s. Fluent in Swahili, she served as vice-president for the China-Africa Business Council of Tanzania.
Campaigners for environmental protection saw the arrest as a turning point as Yang had been playing a pivotal role in the illegal ivory trade.
On February 19, the Kisutu Court Magistrate Huruma Sahidi sentenced her to 15 years in prison. Two Tanzanian men were also given the same sentence.
Investigators said Yang was a key link between poachers in East Africa and buyers in China for more than a decade. Tanzania was said to have lost 60% of its elephants during that time. So her conviction has delighted wildlife groups and conservationists.