A Chinese national and restaurant owner known as the “Ivory Queen” has been arrested and charged with smuggling more than 700 tusks worth nearly $2.5 million in Tanzania.
Yang Feng Glan is being accused of acting as the essential link between East African poachers and Chinese buyers, according to the NGO Elephant Action League. Yang is reportedly a Beijing native who also happens to serve as secretary-general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council. She has confessed to the crimes and faces 20 to 30 years in prison.
According to The Citizen, Tanzania’s largest English-language newspaper, Yang has been operating in Tanzania for 14 years. In that time she has financed elephant poachers and supplied traders in illegal ivory.
Rampant poaching has devastated Tanzania’s native elephant population. The country has lost around 85,000 elephants, 60% of its elephants, to poaching between 2009 and 2014.
“Tanzania has had the most serious elephant poaching of any country in recent years with few prosecutions, so this is an important case,” said WildAid CEO Peter Knights. “But as well as arresting the smugglers, corrupt officials who enable this trade need to be prosecuted.”
Tanzania is considered to be the largest source of poached ivory in the world and China is the largest importer of smuggled tusks. This year, China has taken some efforts to reduce its ivory consumption by holding high-profile public ivory destructions.
Check out this PSA Chinese pianist Lang Lang made for WildAid earlier this year:
Also, watch this short documentary about China’s role in the devastation of Tanzania’s elephants: