A prominent Chinese businesswoman, nicknamed the ‘Ivory Queen’, appeared in a Dar es Salaam court on Monday.
She’s been charged with running a criminal network responsible for smuggling tusks from more than 350 elephants.
The 66-year-old denies the charges.
Chinese businesswoman denies smuggling ivory out of Tanzania and faces over 20 years behind bars if she is convicted https://t.co/YVWF9ahrRK— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 23, 2016
Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling 706 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004 worth some $2.5 million. She was arrested in September 2015.
Glan, a Swahili-speaker who has lived and worked in Tanzania since the 1970s, is secretary-general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council and owns a popular Chinese restaurant.
If convicted, she could face more than 20 years in jail.
Tanzania’s elephant population shrank from 110,000 in 2009 to a little over 43,000 in 2014, according to a census released in June, with conservation groups blaming “industrial-scale” poaching.
President John Magufuli, who took office in November, has promised to clamp down on poaching as part of a broader anti-corruption campaign.
Demand for ivory from fast-growing Asian economies such as China and Vietnam, where it is turned into jewels and ornaments, has led to a spike in poaching across Africa.
China, the world’s biggest consumer of elephant tusks, announced a one-year ban on the import of African ivory carvings in February.