Important news from Tanzania this week as Chinese businesswoman, Yang Fenglan, dubbed the “Ivory Queen”, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants, weighing nearly 2 tons to Asia.
As per Reuters, Yang Fenglan, who has lived in Tanzania on and off for decades and ran a Chinese restaurant, “was found guilty of working with two Tanzanian men to smuggle more than 800 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004.”
“Congratulations to Tanzania for taking a stand against wildlife trafficking and following through with prosecution of a top level ivory poacher from Asia,” said Damien Mander, Founder of International Anti-Poaching Foundation in a message sent to WAN. “All too often these key people are allowed to get on a plane and fly home untouched. This 15 year sentence is one of the strongest messages yet that Africa’s wildlife is off limits.”
Yang Fenglan and the men she conspired with, Salivius Matembo and Manase Philemon, were reportedly convicted of “leading an organized criminal gang.”
During a press conference yesterday, when questioned about the news that Reuters first reported, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang confirmed that China supports the Tanzanian court’s decision.
“The Chinese government holds ‘zero tolerance’ toward the illegal trade of endangered animals and their products,” Shaung responded in a statement, further explaining that “since 2015, China has rolled out measures to ban the import and export of ivory carvings and hunting trophies, and domestic processing and sale of ivory for commercial purpose.”
“We support the relevant departments of Tanzania in investigating and trying this case fairly in accordance with law,” continued Shuang. “China stands ready to work with Tanzania and other members of the international community to protect endangered species and crack down on illegal trading.”
The Chinese government requests its citizens overseas to abide by local laws and regulations and will never shield those who violated laws.
“I would like to remind Chinese citizens traveling in Africa to bear in mind relevant laws and not to buy or carry with them any products made from endangered wild animals like ivories and rhino horns,” said Shuang.
China banned the trade of ivory and ivory products at the end of 2017 and local customs authorities have subsequently augmented their fight against ivory smuggling.