GENEVA: Several African countries have made great strides in clamping down on ivory smuggling, with large seizures for the first time exceeding those made in prime destination Asia, United Nations wildlife regulator Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said on Friday. Until recently, seizures of half a ton or more of ivory were rarely if ever made before the illegal, precious material left Africa. That changed just over a year ago, according to the CITES. Two thirds of the 76 such seizures made since 2009 have been in Asia, where demand for tusks for decorative purposes and use in traditional medicines, has fuelled a multi-billion-dollar illicit trade. But since March, 2013, for the first time, “more large-scale seizures were made in Africa than in Asia,” CITES said in a report on elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade.