Context: Red sandalwood/Red Sanders worth ₹1.87 crore seized.
- Red Sanders is a non-fragrant variety of sandalwood.
- It is found in Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests at altitudes of 150 - 900 m.
- It grows on dry, hilly, often rocky ground, and occasionally found on precipitous hill sides also.
- It prefers lateritic and gravelly soil and cannot tolerate water logging.
- It takes at least 20-25 years for the tree’s beautiful, deep red wood to be of use.
- Red Sanders has a highly restrictive distribution in the South Eastern portion of Indian peninsula to which it is endemic.
- It is mainly found in the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh.
- Sporadic wild populations occur in the adjoining districts of the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu & Karnataka.
- Red Sanders is a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.
What is it used for?
- The species has negligible utilization within the country mainly in Ayurvedic medicines.
- There is an unsubstantiated belief that red sanders can absorb nuclear radiation. Its primary use, however, is decorative, musical instruments making and ornamental.
February 2019: Red sanders is now free of export restrictions
- All red sanders farmers, who weren’t allowed to export their produce as the foreign trade policy prohibited it, now can.
- The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), an agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in February 2019 revised its export policy to permit its export if it is obtained from cultivated land.
- However, red sanders remains listed in the Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), which says “trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival”.
- However, it has been removed from endangered category of International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organisation for nature conservation, has reclassified red sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus) as ‘near threatened’ from the earlier ‘endangered’ in 2018.
- According to the IUCN categorisation, species which come under ‘critically endangered’, ‘endangered’ and ‘vulnerable’ categories are considered threatened.