DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, Mar 3 – Tanzania’s most notorious poacher, nicknamed “The Devil”, was on Friday sentenced to 12 years in prison for running an ivory trafficking network across five African countries, a conservation organisation said.
“Boniface Matthew Maliango, commonly known as ‘Shetani’ or ‘The Devil’, is one of Tanzania’s most notorious ivory traffickers. Today he was given a 12-year sentence,” the PAMS Foundation, which finances the government’s fight against poaching, wrote on its Facebook page.
The 47-year-old, considered the biggest ivory trafficker in east Africa, was arrested in Dar es Salaam in September 2015 after a year-long manhunt.
The Elephant Action League, which fights wildlife crime, said he was believed to be responsible for killing thousands of elephants at the head of 15 poaching syndicates operating throughout Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique and southern Kenya.
He is also accused of leading a poaching network supplying a 66-year-old Chinese citizen Yang Fenlan known as the “Ivory Queen”, who is currently on trial in Tanzania for illegally trafficking 706 elephant tusks between 2000 and 2014.
The hunt for Maliango and the Ivory Queen features in the 2016 Netflix documentary “The Ivory Game”, on which Leonardo Di Caprio was an executive producer.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the number of African elephants has fallen by around 111,000 to 415,000 over the past decade.
The killing shows no sign of abating with around 30,000 elephants slaughtered for their ivory every year.
Tanzania, which has one of the continent’s biggest elephant populations, is one of the worst-affected countries.
A recent census showed a 60 percent drop in the country’s elephant population between 2009 and 2014.