Dodoma, Feb 20 (IANS) A Chinese woman, nicknamed the “Queen of Ivory” and thought to be one of Africa’s most notorious traffickers, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Tanzania, authorities told CNN.
On Tuesday, a Tanzanian court found Yang Feng Glan, 70, guilty of smuggling 860 elephant tusks that authorities say are worth $6.45 million.
Yang was sentenced along with her Tanzanian co-accused Salivius Francis Matembo and Manase Julius Philemon.
Tanzania’s Director of Public Prosecutions accused Yang of running a sophisticated supply chain between East Africa and China, using her ties to the Chinese and Tanzanian elite to move ivory across the world.
Yang was arrested in Dar es Salaam on September 28, 2015, after a year-long manhunt.
Tuesday’s landmark ruling marks one of the harshest sentences ever handed down to such a high-profile and well-connected Chinese national living in East Africa, Tanzanian investigators told CNN.
Ynag came to Tanzania in 1975 as a translator for a Chinese company that was building a railroad linking the port of Dar es Salaam to Zambia. She was one of the first Chinese people to learn fluent Swahili, the investigators said.
Before her arrest, she also served as the secretary general of the Tanzania-China Africa Business Council.
Tanzania, which some have called the ground zero of elephant poaching in the last decade, has been heavily criticised by conservation groups for its inability to stop the mass killing of its tuskers.
The East African nation lost 60 per cent of its elephant population from 2009 to 2014, according to data released by the Tanzanian government.