A case of a Chinese national named Yu Bo aged 45 years who was arrested at Dar es Salaam port Tanzania for illegal possession of 81 elephant tusks weighing 303 kg and pangolin scales of about 2 kg was successfully concluded on 19th March 2014. The suspect was arrested on the first day of the inter-regional operation codenamed ”operation Cobra II” which was conducted across 28 countries in Africa and Asia from 30th December, 2013 to 26th January 2014.
On his own plea of guilty the accused person was sentenced to a fine of Tanzania Shillings 9,781,204,900/- (equivalent of USD 6.5 Million) or serve 20 years imprisonment in default. He was jailed for 20 years after failing to pay the fine. China and Tanzania actively participated in the recently concluded inter regional operation Cobra II under the coordination of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF).
The convict had entered Tanzania for business purposes on November 26, 2013. Before going to Tanzania he was involved in business in Bujumbura- Burundi and shortly after his arrival in Tanzania, he engaged in criminal activities with a syndicate of elephant ivory smuggling within and outside Tanzania. He was arrested while attempting to smuggle the trophies to China through Dar es Salaam port. The elephant tusks were stashed in nylon bags and concealed in assorted wood carvings contained in three wooden boxes.
The severity of this sentence sends a terse warning to others with intent to engage in poaching or act as accomplices to wildlife crime. Commenting on the sentence, the Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force Mr. Bonaventure EBAYI said “in January 2014, another ivory smuggler arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya was jailed for 7 years after failing to pay Ksh20 Million (about USD250,000) fine and this new successful prosecution demonstrates that engaging in wildlife crime is now a high risk business as the game has changed in Lusaka Agreement member states and Africa at large”.
LATF lauds the Judiciary in the United Republic of Tanzania for this commendable court outcome which will contribute towards our efforts in deterring wildlife criminal syndicates from their illicit activities. We encourage all African states Judiciaries to emulate the good practices and to do even better.
Seized ivory at DSM port Tanzania from the smuggler