The product is smuggled out largely via National Highway 4
Karnataka, which once grappled with illegal sandalwood trade, now finds itself a conduit in the smuggling of red sanders — a tree species listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), from Andhra Pradesh.
Around 50,000 kg of red sanders wood was seized in Karnataka from January 2013 to 2014, according to records with the Forest Cell, presented at the annual meet of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau here on Friday.
The product is smuggled out largely via National Highway 4 through the State, and hoarded here, before it makes its way into the international market, according former IGP, Forest Cell, Arun Chakravarthy.
While there is little demand for this wood in India, red sanders is used in traditional medicine in certain parts of the world, including China, he said. According to estimates, one kilogram of red sanders wood fetches anything between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 12,000 in the black market.
The tree is found mainly in three districts of Andhra Pradesh.
Of the 27 seizures made across Karnataka — from various vehicles ranging from tempos to cars in Bangalore, Chickballapur, Kolar and Tumkur — the biggest haul was of 9 tonnes recovered from Bangalore. The biggest exit points out of the country are Mumbai and Kolkata.
The demand for the product is outpacing that of sandalwood, Mr. Chakravarthy told The Hindu. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests G.V. Sugur said the Karnataka Forest Department is thinking of creating a special provision for red sanders, similar to provisions in the Karnataka Forest Act that govern sandalwood smuggling.