Yang Fenglan

Yang Fenglan is a Chinese business woman who has been resident in Tanzania since the 1970’s. One month ago, the 66-year old elderly lady was apprehended in Tanzania over the smuggling of elephant tusks.

No one would have thought that the nice elderly woman who couldn’t hurt a fly could be guilty of a crime of this magnitude.

However, Tanzanian authorities which have been tracking down her smuggling operations for a year now have finally arrested her.

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Yang Fenglan is accused of leading one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings. The Tanzanian authorities say that the Chinese national is responsible for over 700 elephant tusks estimated to a worth $2.5 million (£1.7 million).

Yang Fenglan is from Beijing. In 1975 she worked the government’s foreign trade department, in Beijing. With her proficient mastering of Swahili, she worked as a translator for Tazara, the Tanzania-Zambia Railway project which was being constructed by China. In 1998 she started her businesses in Tanzania.

She ran a Chinese restaurant and an investment company identified as Beijing Great Wall Investment. By 2012 Yang was the secretary-general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council.


She has been reported to have attested to having some sort of sentimental attachments to Tanzania.

“I know I should have retired, but whenever I think that my language advantage and network can help many Chinese and Tanzanians and increase mutual trust and confidence, I do not want to stop. I myself am the best illustration of China-Tanzania friendship.”

Little did they know, her concerns were more business and criminally inclined. Her love was more for the tusks.

See Also: Kenya Set To Burn Largest Stockpile Of Ivory Ever

Tanzania has lost over 60% of its elephants between 2009 and 2014; courtesy of ivory-poaching. Earlier this year in April, Kenya incarcerated about 105 tonnes of Ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horn as a sign of her anti-Ivory poaching stance.

With the arrest of Yang Fenglan, who is recognized as the Ivory queen ripping off Tanzania’s natural wealth, Tanzania is portraying a convincing move in eradicating ivory poaching in the country. This is definitely good news for wildlife enthusiasts and the East African nation as a whole.

As Yang still denies and is yet to face trial, the ivory kingpin faces a 30-year jail term when court officially finds her guilty.