An international conservation group says that as many as 20 percent of Africa's elephants could be killed in the next 10 years if illegal poaching continues at the current rate.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species said an estimated 22,000 elephants were illegally killed across Africa in 2012, slightly lower than the 25,000 elephants poached in 2011.

The poaching data was released Monday at the opening of the African Elephant Summit in Gaborone, Botswana's capital. The elephant conference is being convened by the Botswana government and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The elephant summit is seeking agreement on policies to end the illegal ivory trade and secure viable elephant populations across Africa, including strengthening national laws to tackle wildlife crime and enhancing cooperation between countries.