Several African countries with some of the largest elephant populations are calling for looser controls on legal ivory trade, while another group of countries on the continent say tighter controls are the best way to curb the illegal killing of elephants for their tusks.

The dueling proposals were released by the office of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. They will be discussed when member countries of CITES meet May 23-June 3 in Sri Lanka.

Colman O'Criodain of the WWF conservation group says there "isn't really any appetite" in the international community for relaxing ivory trade restrictions.

O'Criodain said Saturday that CITES members should focus on how to disrupt ivory traffickers and not engage in "sterile debates" at the Colombo meeting.