This illegal ivory was destroyed in Kenya in April. Zimbabwe wants to sell ivory to help protect elephants. (Ben Curtis/AP)

Zimbabwe will push for the lifting of an international ban on ivory sales, saying that limited sales would allow the government to raise money for conservation and to fight illegal poaching.

The southern African country is able to protect elephants only by selling ivory, the government said in a paper that will be presented in September at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Much of the ivory sold illegally comes from elephant tusks. Poachers usually kill the elephant to remove the tusks.

Zimbabwe says its elephant population, estimated at 84,000, is twice what can be supported by available food and land. The country, which is going through an economic crisis, said in February that it raised $1 million from selling elephants to China as part of conservation efforts.

The country estimates that it could earn about $35 million by selling its current stockpile of ivory.

— Bloomberg News