More than 60 elephants are being poached and killed every day, the World Wildlife Fund said in a report that warned a nationwide surge in poaching is set to worsen.
More than 5,000 elephants have been killed since January, the organisation said in the report released on Thursday.
The poaching crisis has forced more than 1.2 million people to flee their homes, displacing more than 300,000 of them.
Elephants are also increasingly hunted in areas where they are more rare.
The report, titled “Worldwide Trends in Poaching in Elephants”, says the global increase in poaching, which has led to an unprecedented collapse in populations and increased demand for ivory, is set for its worst growth rate in a decade.
The situation is so dire, the report says, that it will require the global community to act immediately to stop poaching, and to protect the elephants, which are at risk from habitat loss and poaching.
The most vulnerable elephants are found in Africa’s biggest elephant savannahs, which account for around one-fifth of the global population of about 1.3 billion, the WWF said.
Elephant poaching in Africa is a major threat to wildlife conservation, the group said.
Poaching in South Sudan, a country of about 20 million, has increased to almost 4,000 people a day, while more than 20,000 animals have been poached in Kenya.
The report found that more than 500 elephants have disappeared since the beginning of the year.