Experts warned that Africa faces a poaching crisis that is likely to see a further decline in the number of wild elephants on the continent at a summit in Botswana on 23 March.

Delegates from Europe, Africa and Asia attended the Africa Elephant summit held in the northern Botswana town of Kasane.

Experts from the United Nations body that polices the global ivory trade, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), said at the summit that the number of elephants would continue to decline.

Cites said overall elephant poaching rates were virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to 2013, but were still greater than natural elephant population growth rates, meaning a continued decline in elephant numbers overall is likely.

Botswana's Minister for the Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tsekedi Khama, said African nations lacked the will to combat poaching effectively.

"It is up to Africa to say no, we have to say no, but as long as the political will is not there and as long as corruption is in place I can guarantee you, it is going to take longer than we would like, because you will always find people who will find an opportunity to carry on whether they are in the country or out of the country - that is the challenge. So really what I am saying to you is that political will, corruption, these two things, if they're in place we would not be having the problem we have today. The message that we need to deliver that there is no tolerance at all for poaching or for syndicates you know or for corruption. There should be no tolerance whatsoever," he said.

Poaching has surged across sub-Saharan Africa in the past few years, with gangs killing elephants and rhinos to feed ever-increasing demand for ivory and horns from Asia.

A Cites representative at the summit said there were three main drivers of poaching.

"Poverty is strongly linked with levels of elephant poaching, and indeed we find that it is actually the strongest of the relationships that we find as I mentioned earlier today. It is basically poverty, governance and demand essentially and also law enforcement," Cites elephant specialist Julian Blanc said at the summit.

Traffic's elephant and rhino programme leader, Tom Milliken said some countries hid details about their ivory trade.

"Countries who have destroyed ivory are not doing due diligence in having independent audits performed about the ivory they are destroying. In some cases unscrupulous countries could have been trading ivory illegally and they pretend to destroy it," he said.

A 2014 UN and Interpol report estimated that about 20,000 to 25,000 elephants were killed in Africa every year, out of a total population of as many as 650,000.