NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ A new study by some of the world’s leading elephant experts estimates that poachers killed 100,000 elephants across Africa between 2010 and 2012.

The study released Monday found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent of all elephant deaths a decade ago to roughly 65 percent of all elephant deaths today. The authors said such figures alarm conservationists because that level of poaching deaths leads to population decline.

The study’s lead author, George Wittemye of Colorado State University, said Africa will continue to lose more elephants in susceptible areas but the numbers will hold steady in countries that invest in wildlife security.

The peer-reviewed study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.