A Tanzanian court on Tuesday jailed a Chinese woman popular known as the “Ivory Queen” to 15 years in prison.
She was put on trial in Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam for playing a role in illegal ivory trade.
The court convicted Yang Fenglan who is 69 years for trafficking 706 elephant tusks between 2000 and 2014. The tusks were worth $2.5 million.
In court the Judge Huruma Shaidi said “The prosecution proved the case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Fenglan was not jailed alone. She was sentenced alongside two Tanzanian men, Salvius Matembo and Philemon Manase.
Leading smuggling ring
Ms Fenglan has lived in Tanzania for decades dating back to the 1970s. She is however known for leading one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings.
The smuggling rings are responsible for the killing of hundreds of elephants. Her prosecution was described by wildlife campaigners as one of the most important cases for decades.
The court convicted Fenglan of organising a smuggling operations between Tanzania and parts of Asia.
She was arrested in 2015 and until her arrest served as vice president of the China-Africa Business Council of Tanzania.
There is a global campaign to end poaching of elephants with the population of African elephants falling drastically.
Ivory is in high demand in Asia where it is used for jewellery and ornaments.
Asian ban on Ivory sale
In 2018 China’s ban on ivory sale came into effect in a move considered bold in protecting endangered animals.
China is the world’s largest importer and end user of elephant tusks. It decided to ban the sale of the product after several activism of wildlife activists who are now celebrating the action.
Ivory sales and demand have fallen since early 2014 because of a crackdown on corruption.
That was also compounded by slower economic growth with Wildlife groups estimating that 30,000 elephants are killed by poachers in Africa every year.