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Tanzania court jails two Chinese men for ivory smuggling

Tanzania has sentenced two Chinese men to 35 years each in jail for ivory smuggling, local media reported on Saturday, the latest conviction of Chinese nationals in a drive to stamp out poaching.

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam sentenced Huang Gin, 53, and Xu Fujie, 25, after they failed to pay a fine of 54.35 billion shillings ($25 million) each, the state-run Daily News reported.

 The two were arrested at a house in Dar es Salaam in 2013 with 706 pieces of elephant tusk and have been in custody since.

 "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 privately-owned Citizen newspaper quoted magistrate Cyprian Mkeha as saying in his ruling.

 The East African country relies heavily on revenues from safari tourism and new President John Magufuli has pledged to root out poaching as part of a wider war on corruption.

 In October, Tanzania charged prominent Chinese businesswoman Yang Feng Glan, 66, dubbed the "Ivory Queen", with running a network that smuggled out tusks from 350 elephants. She is under arrest and facing a separate trial.