By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 20,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory in 2013, driven by demand in China and Thailand, and some local populations face an immediate threat of extinction, a U.N.-linked wildlife conservation agency said on Friday. "Today we are confronting a situation of industrial-scale poaching and smuggling, the involvement of organized transnational criminal organizations, the involvement of rebel militia," CITES secretary-general John Scanlon told a briefing. Fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) were sanctioned by the Security Council this year for illegal hunting and ivory trade, particularly in central Africa, he said. Large seizures of smuggled ivory in Africa, those over 500 kilos, rose in 2013, for the first time exceeding those in Asia, according to CITES.
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