Smuggling of Red Sanders

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    In  Context

    • A Fact Sheet prepared by TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring organisation has revealed  the issue of Red Sanders illegal trade.
      • TRAFFIC was established in 1976 by WWF and IUCN as a wildlife trade monitoring network to undertake data collection, recommendations on wildlife trade.

    About

    • The CITES trade database has recorded 28 incidents of Red Sanders confiscation, seizure, and specimen from the wild being exported from India. 
    • It highlights the threats of rampant illegal logging and smuggling of trees especially in Chittoor, Kadapa, Nellore & Kurnool districts in Andhra Pradesh.
    • China remains the largest importer of the product, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore.

    Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood)

    • About:
      • Red Sanders is a flora-species that is endemic to the tropical dry deciduous forest in Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh.
      • It is locally known as Yerra Chandanam, Rakta Chandanam.
      • It is a very slow-growing tree species that attains maturity after 25 – 40 years.
      • It is fire-hardy and resistant to droughts
    • High Demand & applications:
      • Red Sanders is under severe pressure from illegal logging and harvesting. It is in demand in both domestic and international markets.
      • Its rich hue and therapeutic properties are responsible for its high demand across Asia, particularly China, for use in cosmetics, medicinal products and high-end furniture/woodcraft.
      • While the red dye obtained from the wood is used as a colouring agent in textiles and medicines.
    • Conservation Status:
      • It is under ‘endangered list’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. 
      • It is listed in Appendix-II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES).
      • Listed under Schedule IV of The Wildlife Protection Act.

    Initiatives to Curb Illegal Trade

    • The export of Red Sanders from India is prohibited as per the Foreign Trade Policy.
    • Operation Rakth Chandan
    • Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) established in 2014.

    Way Ahead

    • The TRAFFIC called for declaring the Red Sanders harbouring forests within the species’ geographical range as ‘High Conservation Areas’, to provide an adequate legal framework for protecting the species and its habitat.

    Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 

    • About:
      • It 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.
    • Members:
      • CITES has been among the conservation agreements with the largest membership, with 184 Parties.
      • India became the 25th party in 1976.
      • CITES is legally binding on the Parties.
    • Permit System:
      • All import, export and re-export of species covered under CITES must be authorised through a permit system.
    • Appendixes:
      • CITES Appendix I lists species threatened with extinction — import or export permits for these are issued rarely and only if the purpose is not primarily commercial. 
      • CITES Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction but in which trade must be strictly regulated.

    Source: TH