GENEVA, Switzerland, June 21 (UPI) -- Elephant poaching levels are the worst in a decade and ivory seizures the highest since 1989, a U.N.-backed endangered species conference heard.
The report was prepared for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, a U.N. release said Thursday.
"We need to enhance our collective efforts across range, transit and consumer states to reverse the current disturbing trends in elephant poaching and ivory smuggling," CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon said in announcing the report.
"While being essential, enforcement efforts to stop wildlife crime must not just result in seizures -- they must result in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop the flow of contraband," he said. "The whole 'enforcement chain' must work together."
Three of the five years in which the greatest volumes of ivory were seized globally occurred in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the report said.
In 2011 alone, there were 14 large-scale seizures totaling an estimated 24.3 tons of ivory, more than in any previous year, it said.
Large-scale ivory seizures, those involving more than 1,700 pounds of ivory in a single transaction, typically indicate the participation of organized crime, the report authors said.
The situation in Africa shows the urgent need to implement the African Elephant Action Plan, created by all African elephant range states under the auspices of CITES in 2010 that will invest $100 million over three years in elephant conservation efforts, the report said.