Tanzania Arrests The Notorious ‘Queen Of Ivory’

Tanzania took an important step this week to combat the ivory trade and save the African elephant.

The country’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit on Thursday arrested a string of high-level ivory traffickers accused of illegally smuggling elephant tusks from East Africa to East Asia. Among those arrested was Yang Feng Glan, a 66-year-old Chinese native known as the “Queen of Ivory.”

Tanzania has accused Yang of smuggling 706 elephant tusks, weighing about 4,200 pounds and worth about $2.5 million, according to The Citizen, a local newspaper. She faces up to 30 years in prison, the U.S.-based watchdog Elephant Action League reported.

BREAKING: #Tanzania, “Queen of #Ivory” arrested, most important trafficker ever busted http://t.co/kyjU6nxpW7 pic.twitter.com/9dJXKMgNT3

— ElephantActionLeague (@ElephantLeague) October 7, 2015

For centuries, elephants have been slaughtered for their tusks, which are then made into jewelry, ornamental carvings and chopsticks. The worldwide ivory trade has largely been responsible for a dramatic decline in the number of elephants. In 1800, there were an estimated 26 million of them in Africa, according to National Geographic. By 2007, the population was down to roughly half a million.

In 1989, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species classified the African elephant as an endangered species and banned the trade in elephant ivory in certain countries. Some African nations saw fewer elephant killings after the ban, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noted, although the war against ivory poaching and trading was hardly won. In 2012, s0me 35,000 African elephants were destroyed for their tusks, the Humane Society International reported. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of elephants in Tanzania fell by a whopping 60 percent, from 109,051 to —> Read More