A Tanzanian court has charged a prominent Chinese businesswoman, dubbed the ‘Ivory Queen’, with running a criminal network responsible for smuggling tusks from more than 700 elephants.
Yang Feng Glan, considered the “ivory queen” has been a key link between Chinese ivory buyers and African poachers for nearly 15 years. Her arrest came over a year after Tanzania’s national and transnational crimes investigation unit started tracking her movement. The Elephant Action League describes her as “the most important ivory trafficker ever arrested in the country.”
The League added that she was hiding in Uganda but was caught when she returned to Tanzania this month: “After confessing to many of her crimes she has been taken to the high court of Dar es Salaam facing a maximum sentence of 20 to 30 years imprisonment.”
While there’s record the “ivory queen” has been smuggling for 15 years, many say she has been actively paying poachers since the 80s. With Tanzania’s elephants struggling due to the illegal ivory trade, this arrest is huge. The country has lost 60% of its elephants in just five years and now has just over 40,000 left roaming.
Bringing a kingpin from China into Tanzanian court is rare and it hopefully marks a step forward for the country’s government. It has been criticized before for not doing much when it comes to stopping the ivory flow in and out of its borders.
Glan is connected to dozens of high-level companies in China and leading poachers across Tanzania. She was also the vice-president and secretary-general of the Tanzania China-Africa business council.
There’s hope that the ivory ring leader’s arrest will lead to other key players who pay into the poaching industry in Tanzania.