Entire elephant populations are dying out in many African countries due to poaching on a massive scale, wildlife regulator CITES warned Friday, while also hailing the continent for clamping down on ivory smuggling. More than 20,000 African elephants were poached last year alone for their tusks, which rake in thousands of dollars a kilo in Asia, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Organised crime syndicates and rebel militia looking for ways to fund insurgencies in Africa have become increasingly involved, eager to reap the benefits as demand in China for ivory to use in decorations and in traditional medicines has fuelled a multi-billion-dollar illicit trade. "We are confronting a situation of industrial scale poaching and smuggling," CITES chief John Scanlon told reporters Friday.
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