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The poaching of the Asian elephant for ivory has severely and seriously depleted its population. Male tuskers are the main quarry of poachers thus adversely affecting the animals' sex ratio. During 1994-1998, more than 100 cases were reported from the Southern States of India alone. Several other species such as the pangolin and civets are slaughtered for their parts to be used in tribal medicine.

Reports from a number of African countries indicate there's a rise in poaching. In Kenya's Tsavo National Park, 29 elephants were killed for their ivory in 1999. This is five times the average annual total during the previous six years.

Press reports from Zimbabwe claim that poachers killed at least 350 elephants in the country last year, with 31 killed in a single park in just two weeks.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non-profit environmental group based in London, England and Washington, DC, paved the way for the adoption of the international trade ban in 1990 with a two year undercover investigation exposing the illegal ivory trade. Now EIA fears substantial quantities of illicit ivory are on the move again.

In October 1989, governments that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted overwhelmingly to ban the ivory trade. While 76 countries supported the ban, only 11 opposed it, and thus it came into force on January 17, 1990.

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