Two Chinese men have been sentenced each to 35 years in jail by a court in Tanzania for smuggling 1.8 tonnes of ivory, among the highest punishment ever imposed in such cases in the east African country, according to a newspaper report.
The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam on Friday sentenced Huang Gin, 53, and Xu Fujie, 25, for illegal possession of elephant tusks valued at 5.4 billion shillings (HK$17.6 million), Tanzania’s state-run Daily News reported.
The two were arrested at a house in Dar es Salaam in 2013 with 706 elephant tusks, according to the article.
They failed to pay a fine of 54.35 billion shillings each and have been in custody since, the report said.
“Considering the evidence adduced in court and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious the accused are a real threat to the elephant population,” The Citizen newspaper quoted magistrate Cyprian Mkeha as saying in his ruling.
Xu nearly collapsed in the dock in shock after the court’s verdict was given, the paper reported.
In a separate case in October, Yang Feng Glan, a Chinese woman in her 60s dubbed the “ivory queen” was charged with smuggling 706 elephant tusks worth US$2.5 million from Tanzania to China. She is in custody and faces trial.
A court in southern Tanzania sentenced four Chinese men to 20 years in jail each in December after they were convicted of smuggling rhino horns.
Poaching has risen in recent years across sub-Saharan Africa where well-armed criminal gangs have killed elephants for tusks and rhinos for horns that are often shipped to Asia for use in ornaments and medicines.
The elephant population in Tanzania shrank from about 110,000 in 2009 to about 43,000 in 2014, according to a census released in June. Conservationists blame “industrial-scale” poaching.
By CATHERINE WONG Mar. 21, 2016 on South China Morning Post
Read more here