A Tanzanian court has sentenced Yang Fenglan, a Chinese businesswoman nicknamed the “Ivory Queen”, to 15 years in jail for smuggling hundreds of elephant tusks.
Yang was accused of operating one of Africa’s biggest ivory-smuggling rings, responsible for smuggling an approximate of 2.5 million dollars worth of tusks from around 400 elephants.
Two Tanzanian men were also found guilty of involvement in the ring and were given the 15 years jail sentence.
Yang was convicted on charges relating to the smuggling of around 800 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2014 from Tanzania to the Far East.
Yang was a prominent businesswoman, operating a Chinese restaurant as well as an investment company in Dar es Salaam.
Fluent in Swahili, she had lived and worked in Tanzania since the 1970s, and had served as vice-president of the China-Africa Business Council of Tanzania.
Ivory poaching is said to have caused a 20% decline in the population of African elephants in the last decade.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global environmental body, says the population of African elephants has fallen to 415,000 – a drop of 110,000 over the last 10 years – as a result of poaching.
The illicit trade is fueled by demand from China and east Asia, where ivory is used to make jewellery and ornaments.