Chinese 'Ivory Queen' Trafficker Has Been Jailed For 15 Years For Smuggling Elephant Tusks

A Chinese businesswoman dubbed the 'Ivory Queen' has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars for smuggling hundreds of elephant tusks.

Yang Fenglan, 69, was jailed in Tanzania accused of leading one of Africa's biggest ivory-smuggling rings, responsible for smuggling $2.5m (£1.9m) worth of tusks from some 400 elephants, according to the BBC.

The ivory smuggling kingpin was convicted on charges that related to the illegal importation of around 800 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2014 from Tanzania to the Far East.

Fenglan was arrested in 2015 as a result of a high-speed car chase, that followed on from a year-long investigation. At the time she was arrested, she was a businesswoman operating a Chinese restaurant as well as an investment company in Dar es Salaam, the most populated city in Tanzania.

Two Tanzanian men - Salivius Matembo and Manase Philemon - were also found guilty of involvement in the ring and were sentenced to 15 years each.

Yang Fenglan, 69, was sentenced followed her involvement in one of Africa's biggest ivory-smuggling rings. Credit: VOA News
Yang Fenglan, 69, was sentenced followed her involvement in one of Africa's biggest ivory-smuggling rings. Credit: VOA News

According to Reuters, Kisutu Court Magistrate, Huruma Shaidi, ordered the trio to pay twice the market value of the elephant tusks or face a further two years in prison.

Judge Shaidi told the court: "The prosecution proved the case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt."

Prosecutors in court said that Fenglan 'intentionally did organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies' weighing a total of 1.889 tonnes.

Amani Ngusaru, WWF country director, told Reuters: "[It] is not punishment enough for the atrocities she committed, by being responsible for the poaching of thousands of elephants in Tanzania.

"She ran a network that killed thousands of elephants."

Stock image of Thai customs officials displaying seized ivory during a press conference in Bangkok. Credit: PA
Stock image of Thai customs officials displaying seized ivory during a press conference in Bangkok. Credit: PA

It was reported that Fenglan had lived in Tanzania since the 1970s working as secretary general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council.

Wildlife groups estimate that around 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa every year.

The UK introduced a new ivory trading law back in December 2018 making it illegal to buy or sell any objects containing ivory, regardless of their age. These rules are expected to come into force in late 2019.

When we published a poll on Twitter asking whether people think there should be a worldwide ban nearly 13,500 votes were cast with 92 per cent of people voting in favour.

Environment Secretary, Michael Gove said: "It is an extraordinary achievement to have passed this Act of Parliament. The Ivory Act is a landmark in our fight to protect wildlife and the environment.

"The speed of its passage through Parliament shows the strength of feeling on all sides of the House on this critical issue.

"The UK has shown global leadership and delivered on a key commitment in the 25 Year Environment Plan. We are determined to end this insidious trade and make sure ivory is never seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol."

Featured Image Credit: VOA News

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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