Mrs. Yang Feng Lan (also spelled Fenglan) known as the “Queen of Ivory” has been arrested in Tanzania.
Yang Feng Lan, a Chinese national, has long been thought to be the most notorious ivory trafficker in Tanzania. As such, she has been followed by the Tanzania National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) for over a year. She recently disappeared from Tanzania and moved to Uganda, but returned one week ago.
A specialized wildlife trafficking unit under NTSCIU arrested a number of high-level Chinese ivory traffickers, led by “The Queen.” Feng Lan is the first woman brought to task so far in the war against elephant poaching. She is believed to be behind the trafficking of a huge quantity of ivory over the last several years.
According to the first information collected by the Task Force, she has been trafficking ivory since at least 2006, working with the most high-ranking poachers in the country and region. She is connected to various companies abroad, all Chinese-owned, and circulates in the upper echelons of Chinese citizens living and working in Tanzania. Feng Lan is the Vice President and Secretary-General of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council, and owns the biggest Chinese restaurant in Dar es Salaam station, the largest market in Tanzania’s largest city.
Tanzania has been ground zero for elephant poaching in East Africa for the past several years. The country lost 85,000 elephants between 2009 and 2014, according to a recent elephant census performed by Tanzania’s government. A slaughter of industrial proportions such as this cannot have happened without the involvement of high profile, corrupt individuals and government officials at the two ports of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
After confessing to many of her crimes Feng Lan has been taken to the high court of Dar es Salaam and faces a maximum sentence of 20-30 years imprisonment.
Andrea Crosta, co-founder of the Elephant Action League and WildLeaks, praised the efforts of the Tanzanian government.
“Finally, a high profile Chinese trafficker is in jail. Hopefully she can lead us to other major traffickers and corrupt government officials. We must put an end to the time of the untouchables if we want to save the elephant. Everyone she has been dealing with will now become a target for law enforcement.”
This is good news for the elephant and good news for us all.
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