Tanzania: Wildlife activists praise arrest of Chinese woman

2015-10-09 16:12
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Dar es Salaam - 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 January 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 spokesperson 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 on Thursday: "Tanzania has been the ground zero of elephant poaching in East Africa for the past several years."

The conservation group said a specialised 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 fuelled poaching that threatens the existence of African elephants.

Read more on:    tanzania  |  china  |  east africa  |  animals

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