Two Chinese immigrants were convicted by a court in Tanzania late last month after they were found to illegally be in possession of 706 ivory elephant tusks and were each sentenced to 30-year terms in prison.
Initially Xu Fujie and Huang Qin were told to choose between being incarcerated or paying a record Sh100.7 billion ($46 million) fine, making it “one of the heaviest sentences aimed at curbing the illegal trade,” said a local report.
“Considering the evidence adduced in court and the huge loss that the nation has suffered for the killing of 226 elephants, it is obvious that the accused are a real threat to the elephant generation within the boundaries of our country,” said the magistrate, Cyprian Mkeha, during his ruling.
He reportedly had to adjourn court proceedings after Xu nearly passed out as the judgement was read.
The two poachers were also convicted for attempted bribery of local law enforcement officers, as well as officers from the National Wildlife Department, with Sh30.2 million (almost $14,000), and an additional five years were tacked on to their sentences.
According to reports, they visited Tanzania in 2010 and were arrested three years later in Dar es Salaam after getting caught with the haul. The two attempted to use an alibi as their way out, feigning innocence, but were not successful.
Recent changes in local laws that ban the poaching practice and institute more severe penalties for those caught doing it have decreased the demand for ivory tusks, causing the prices to plummet.
As a result more elephants are being spared.
“They should rot in jail, these Chinese are not good for Africa,” commented one individual on a previous social media post about the inhumane practice.
Another added, “Chinese are not good for Africa, they are destroying everything, forest, natural resources, business, etc.”
China and the U.S. are the world’s largest consumers of ivory, in that order, using the valuable product to serve various purposes ranging from decorative, to medical to art.
Another concerned person posted, “Stop letting these Asians and all other foreigners in Africa. All they do is keep robbing and taking. They are not you friends … just evil people with evil intentions.”
The illegal and heartless act of murdering Africa’s indigenous wildlife exclusively to get rich off their valuable items is a practice many international activists are very vocal about and taking actions against.