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IFAW's UK Director Robbie Marsland told ITV News that ivory is seen by some gangs as a way of financing their activities.
The growing appetite for ivory means more elephants are being needlessly killed for their tusks.
In 2011, more than 5,000 tusks were seized worldwide, which represents the lives of 2,629 elephants.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - known as CITES - will meet later this year to discuss the issue.
Half of all illegal ivory ends up in China, where business is booming. In the past few years, the black market price of raw ivory has tripled.
As the economy there grows, so does the appetite for what is seen as a luxury item.
ITV News China Correspondent Angus Walker reports on Beijing's ivory market.
- Around 34,000kg of ivory was seized worldwide in 2012
- That's up from 2009, when over 20,000kg of ivory was seized
- An estimated 25,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in 2011
- Just thirteen of the largest ivory seizures in 2011 amounted to over 23,000kg
This information was taken from the Kenya Wildlife Service, National Geographic, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the campaign group Bloody Ivory.
Statistics released by the South African Government also show that 668 rhinos were killed across the country last year - a record number.
Five rhinos have already been killed since the beginning of 2013, the WWF added.
A report by ITV News into the slaughter of a family of elephants is fuelling calls for a complete ban on the international ivory trade.
Activists are calling for Interpol and the World Customs Association to work together to crackdown on the trade.
Here's ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies' report, which includes footage from campaign group the Environmental Investigation Agency:
- An estimated 25,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in 2011.
- Around 34 tonnes of ivory was seized in 2012.
- Nearly 85 per cent of all ivory seized had come from or passed through East Africa.
- The number of animals that died for their tusks doubled in less than two years to approximately 360 in 2012.
Information from the Kenya Wildlife Service, National Geographic and International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Latest ITV News reports
Illegal poaching in Africa is being fuelled by a growing demand for ivory from wealthy consumers in China, and across Asia.
The poachers who slaughtered 12 elephants at the weekend were likely big-time gangsters fuelled by consumer demand in the Far East.