South Africa is the center of illegal trade in ivory, a book published this week says.

Allan Thornton and Dave Currey, writers of "To Save an Elephant," said they spent two years undercover investigating the ivory trade."Our continuing investigations show that South Africa is now the focal point for illegal ivory trading. Stockpiles from neighboring countries are being funneled through South Africa on their way to Taiwan and Japan," they said in a statement.

The authors said South Africa had some very dedicated people trying to rescue the African elephant from poachers. But ivory was moving through South Africa "in spite of the efforts of the Endangered Species Protection Unit of the South African police."

They urged the world community to resist an official South African proposal to permit easing curbs on ivory trading under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

This would undercut efforts of South African police and others, they said. "If the international community accepts this proposal it will be the death warrant for the African elephant.

"Speculators are already killing elephants in the belief that the ivory-consuming nations will agree to South Africa's proposal."

A spokesman for South Africa's London embassy said he could not comment because he had not seen the report.