African authorities have nabbed an infamous ivory trafficker who is believed to responsible for the deaths of more than 500,000 elephants.
Yang Feng Glan was captured in Tanzania after authorities had been stalking her for a year. Glan was known as the “Queen of Ivory”. The 66 year old Chinese woman had been travelling between Beijing, Uganda and Tanzania in order to operate her illegal ivory trade.
Authorities have described Glan as "the most notorious ivory trafficker brought to task so far.”
Glan was reportedly the key link between poachers in Africa and purchasers of ivory in China. In China, the tusks of elephants and the horns of rhinoceroses sell at extremely high prices. Glan was charged with smuggling ivory. The ivory that she helped to smuggle from 2000 to 2014 was valued at about $3 million. Many people believe that Glan had been operating the trade since 1980.
Two local poaching suspects were also arrested in the situation.
Glan is also being accused of financing local gangs in order to help them purchase weapons and bribe officials.
The country of Tanzania is well known for its elephant poaching relating to the ivory trade.
Estimates show that 85,000 elephants have been poached in the country during the past five years. The elephant population fell from 350,000 fifty years ago to just 100,000 by 2009. Some experts believe that only 35,000 elephants remain in the Tanzanian wild.
For Africa as a whole, the elephant population was approximately 1.3 million in 1979. By 2007, it was down to less than 500,000. The population has most likely continued to decline since that time.
In the United States, importing ivory for commercial reasons is forbidden.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are celebrating the arrest of Glan.
The Executive Director for the Elephant Action League Andrea Crosta said, “It's a very important arrest, the most important in Africa in the past years. The hope is that she will talk and lead the task force not only to her Chinese business partners, but also to local corrupt government officials who probably knew about it, and helped her out. She has been trafficking ivory for at least the past 10 years, and you don't smuggle for so long and (with) such big quantities without the knowledge and collaboration of some local officials."