The CITES trade database has recorded 28 incidents of Red Sanders confiscation, seizure, and specimen from the wild being exported from India.
CITES (the 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 specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten the survival of the species.
According to the recently released communiqué titled “RED SANDERS: Factsheet on India’s Red Sanders in illegal wildlife trade”, China remains the largest importer with more than 13,618 tonnes of the products, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore.
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.
Released by: TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring organisation.
It also highlighted the conservation efforts of the species and pointed out that in 2016 the Andhra Pradesh Forest Act was amended to give the special status of protection to Red Sanders.
Red Sanders offences were made cognisable and non-bailable, and the punishments related to them were enhanced.
Red sanders and trading in India:
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.
It is listed under Schedule IV of The Wildlife Protection Act.
IUCN status: Endangered, Red List
Under the foreign trade policy of India, the import of Red Sanders is prohibited, while export is restricted.
Its heartwood is in demand in both domestic and international markets and is used to make furniture and handicrafts.
The red dye obtained from the wood is used as a colouring agent in textiles and medicines.
Red Sanders is a very slow-growing tree species that attains maturity in natural forests after 25-40 years.
Rampant illegal logging has been reported across its range State.
Enforcement agencies such as the Forest Departments, Customs, Railways, Police, DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence), and Coast Guards are responsible for curbing the Red Sanders trafficking.