Environment & Biodiversity

Red Sanders caught smuggling: The CITES database

The CITES trade database records 28 incidents of Red Sanders confiscation, seizure, and wild specimen exportation from India.

Red sanders

  • Pterocarpus santalinus is an Indian endemic tree that has a limited geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.
  • It is a slow-growing tree species that matures after 25-40 years in natural forests.
  • It is restricted to a small area of forest in Andhra Pradesh.
  • It is mostly found in the Andhra Pradesh districts of Chittoor, Kadapa, Nandhyal, Nellore, and Prakasam.
  • It was listed as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and will be listed as ‘endangered’ again in 2021.
  • It is listed in CITES Appendix II and is prohibited from international trade.

Legal protection in India

  • The Union Environment Ministry decided to keep Red Sanders (red sandalwood) out of Schedule VI of the Wild Life Protection Act of 1972, claiming that doing so would discourage cultivation of the rare plant species.
  • Schedule VI governs and limits the cultivation, possession, and sale of endangered plant species.

Threats to the extinction of this species

  • Red Sanders, which are prized for their vibrant colour and therapeutic properties, are in high demand throughout Asia, particularly in China and Japan.
  • They are used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, as well as furniture, woodcraft, and musical instruments.
  • A tonne of Red Sanders costs anywhere between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore in the international market, indicating its popularity.
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