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Tanzania court sentence ‘Ivory Queen’ to 15 years in jail

Nairobi- February 19, 2019: A Tanzanian court has sentenced Yang Fen Glan popularly known as ‘Ivory Queen’ to 15 years in jail. The 69 year old Chinese national, was charged along with two Tanzanians with offenses of unlawful dealing in collecting, selling and transporting more than 706 pieces of elephant tusks weighing 1889 kilograms in 2014.

This conviction is welcomed news signalling the end of a 5 year long case in which Yang and two other accused were charged along with two Tanzanians with offenses of unlawful dealing in government trophies, leading organized crime and escape from lawful custody. This sentence, based on a charge of economic crimes, comes in the back drop of Tanzania’s loss of 100,000 elephants in the last decade which has dented its golden goose – wildlife based tourism.

The arrest of Yang came as shock to many given that the face of an ivory poacher is not an old woman in her late sixties. Yang who was associated with the upper echelon Chinese community lining in Tanzania is believed to have been the ringleader of illegal ivory trade for more than a decade. She is also believed to have been the link between the poachers in East Africa and the buyers in Asian countries.

In 2014, Tanzanian police officers received intelligence that there was a high profile syndicate running a criminal racket in particular where they bought, collected, transported and sold government trophies comprising of 706 pieces of elephant tusks without a permit. This illicit business is believed to have been going on between 2000 and 2014.

We welcome today’s ruling which sends a clear message that no ivory poacher will escape justice and that the days of high profile traffickers are numbered

No single country can win the war against wildlife crime; however through partnerships and collaboration, this transnational crime will be won. We still have a long ways to go but do acknowledge that this conviction is a step in the right direction. We congratulate Tanzania for setting a good precedence and urge Kenya to tighten its noose in the search of six Kenyans adversely listed in INTERPOL’S most wanted list for various crimes with three involved in ivory trafficking. Among those listed are two brothers, Nicholas & Samuel Jefwa who are masterminds of Kenya’s largest illegal ivory export. They are still on the run five years after the warrants were issued by court.

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WildlifeDirect is a Kenya and US registered charitable organization founded by Richard Leakey with a US Board and Kenya Board. WildlifeDirect mission is to connect people to their wildlife and nature and inspire them to value and act to conserve it. The organization campaigns for justice for wildlife to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever.

Read: From ‘Ivory Queen’ to jail bird

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