'Queen of Ivory' faces charge in Tanzania over smuggling

'Queen of Ivory' faces charge in Tanzania over smuggling
PHOTO: Reuters

Yang Fenglan, a Chinese woman dubbed the Queen of Ivory, was charged with smuggling ivory worth millions of dollars in a court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that she had no details about the case.

The Associated Press cited a conservation group, Elephant Action League, saying that Yang is the most prominent ivory trafficker who has been charged so far in the war against elephant poaching. She is believed to be behind the trafficking of a huge quantity of ivory over several years.

Yang was reported to have smuggled nearly 1.9 tons of ivory worth $2.7 million (S$3.8 million) between 2000 and 2014.

She was charged on Wednesday along with two Tanzanian men, Manase Philemon and Silvanus Matembo, who were allegedly connected with international poachers, traders and buyers, according to the report.

At the ministry's regular press briefing, Hua reiterated the Chinese government's stance on fighting the ivory trade.

"We believe that it is the common responsibility of all countries to protect endangered wild species, including elephants, and the international community needs to tackle the problem with concerted efforts. The Chinese government underscores the importance of preserving wildlife, and will earnestly fulfil its international obligation by stepping up legislation and education to clamp down the smuggling of related items," she said.

In January, China destroyed 6.1 metric tons of illegal elephant ivory seized over the years in Dongguan, Guangdong province.

In May, the government destroyed 662 kg of confiscated ivory, the second such action against wildlife crime this year. The illegal ivory was dumped into crushers in Beijing and ground down by the State Forestry Administration and the General Administration of Customs.

Hua said China is willing to work with the international community to fight illegal wildlife trafficking.

Combating wildlife trafficking is one of the major outcomes of President Xi Jinping's recently concluded state visit to the United States.

During his visit last month, China and the US made commitments to take positive steps addressing the global challenge of wildlife poaching and trafficking.

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