The Ivory Queen of China was just hit with a 15-year prison term for smuggling illegal ivory in Asia. A court in Tanzania found Yang Feng Glan, who earned the nickname “Ivory Queen” for her unlawful business activities, guilty of illegally trading close to 2 tons of ivory tusks, which represents more than 350 elephants.
This is not the first time Glan has been charged with ivory smuggling. Back in the fall of 2015, she was busted for shipping 860 ivory pieces through Asia from 2000 to 2004. The illegal goods were estimated to be worth around $5.6 million. Glan and her accomplices, two men from Tanzania, denied the allegations.
As a businesswoman with connections in the Tanzanian government, Glan positioned herself to take advantage of the illegal ivory trade. According to Reuters, Glan has resided in Tanzania for the past 40 years and was appointed to the country’s China-Africa Business Council as the secretary general. She is also fluent in Swahili and operates an eatery in Dar es Salaam.
The magistrate who presided over the case, Huruma Shaidi, handed down a sentence of 15 years for Glan and her two partners in crime: Manase Philemon and Salivius Matembo. The magistrate also ruled that all three criminals have to pay twice the value of the illegal ivory. If they fail to pay the penalty, two years will be added to their sentence.
“[Glan] intentionally did organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies,” court records stated.
Authorities in China fully supported the ruling from the Tanzanian court. Conservationists around the world also applauded the conviction, though some groups thought the punishment was too light, especially considering how Glan oversaw the killing of thousands of elephants in Tanzania.
The elephant population in Tanzania has shrunk dramatically over the past decade. In 2009, there were as many as 110,000 elephants in the country. That number was reduced to only 43,000 in 2014. Environmentalists and conservation groups believe that the illegal ivory trade is the main reason behind the significant drop in numbers.
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