- The CITES trade database has recorded 28 incidents of red sanders confiscation, seizure and specimens from the wild being exported from India, a fact sheet prepared by TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring organisation has revealed.
- CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
- “These consignments were exported to China (53.5%), Hong Kong (25.0%), Singapore (17.8%) and the United States of America (3.5%) from 2016 to 2020.
Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus)
- . Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus), or red sandalwood, is an endemic tree species with distribution restricted to the Eastern Ghats of India.
- The species found in Andhra Pradesh and growing up to a height of 10 to 15 metres is reported to be one of India’s most exploited tree species, and is under severe pressure from illegal logging and harvesting. Under the foreign trade policy of India, the import of Red Sanders is prohibited, while export is restricted.
- “India reported an export of more than 19,049 tonnes of logs. In comparison, the importing countries reported about 4,610 tonnes of logs, 127 tonnes of sawn wood, 20 tonnes of transformed wood and 980 kg of wood products, clearly indicating a discrepancy in reporting of red sanders trade,” the fact sheet said.
- China remains the largest importer with more than 13,618 tonnes of the products, followed by Hong Kong (5,215 tonnes) and Singapore (216 tonnes).
Reason for smuggling
- “Red sanders is under severe pressure from illegal logging and harvesting. Its heartwood is in demand in both domestic and international markets and is used to make furniture and handicrafts, while the red dye obtained from the wood is used as a colouring agent in textiles and medicines.
- Listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act and categorised as endangered as per the IUCN Red List, red sanders is a very slow-growing tree species that attains maturity in natural forests after 25-40 years.
IUCN Red List: Endangered.
CITES: Appendix II
Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule II
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB