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Tanzania: Wildlife activists praise arrest of Chinese woman


The Associated Press

In this photo taken on Wednesday Oct. 7, 2015, Chinese national Young Feng Glan , center, is escorted by police from Kisutu Resident’s Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A Chinese woman has been charged in a Tanzanian court with smuggling nearly 1.9 tons of ivory as wildlife activists applauded the move by Tanzanian authorities to crack down on the illegal ivory trade, which has devastated the elephant population in just a few years. Businesswoman Yang Feng Clan, 66, was charged Wednesday in Dar es Salaam alongside two Tanzanian men. The three suspects allegedly committed the crime between Jan. 1, 2000 and May 22, 2014. Their case was adjourned to Monday. (AP photo)

Associated Press

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) — Wildlife activists are applauding the arrest by Tanzanian authorities of a Chinese woman for alleged ivory smuggling.

According to the Tanzanian government, the country’s elephant population has plummeted from an estimated 109,051 in 2009 to 43,330 in 2014.

Yang Feng Clan, 66, was charged Wednesday in Dar es Salaam alongside two Tanzanian with smuggling nearly 1.9 tons of ivory between Jan. 1, 2000 and May 22, 2014. Their case was adjourned to Monday. Escorted by policewomen from the court Wednesday, Clan raised her hands over her face as a photographer took her photo.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked about the case at a routine ministry briefing on Friday, said she did not know about it but asserted that China is committed to protecting endangered wildlife.

Elephant Action League said in a statement Thursday: “Tanzania has been the ground zero of elephant poaching in East Africa for the past several years.”

The conservation group said a specialized wildlife trafficking unit under Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit made the arrests.

“It’s the news that we all have been waiting for, for years”, said Andrea Crosta, co-founder of the Elephant Action League and WildLeaks. But the group indicated many more people must face justice.

“A slaughter of industrial proportion 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, and elsewhere in civil society,” it said.

In February, China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports that took immediate effect amid criticism that its citizens’ huge appetite for ivory has fueled poaching that threatens the existence of African elephants.

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