Red Sanders or sandalwood is a tree found in the forests of South India and its wood is considered sacred by Hindus. Unlike white sandalwood, it does not have any aroma, but people who believe in Shaivism and Shakta traditions use it in worship. Red sandalwood grows in the regions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Seshachalam is the place of its main attainment.
What is Red sanders?
Its Scientific Name is ‘Pterocarpus santalinus‘. Red sanders is an endemic tree species with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.They are found in the Tropical Dry Deciduous forest of the Palakonda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Andhra Pradesh and also found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The density of red sandalwood is more than that of water. This wood is very expensive. The wood of the middle part of the trunk of the tree is used in treatments like digestion system, accumulation of fluid in the body, blood purification. Its export from India is mainly to China and Japan. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the main states of its production.
why is red sanders endangered?
- Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) has fallen back into the ‘endangered’ category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
- It was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and has now joined the ‘endangered’ list once again.
- The latest IUCN assessment stated: “Over the last three generations, the species has experienced a population decline of 50-80%.
- Red Sanders usually grow in the rocky, degraded and fallow lands with Red Soil and a hot and dry climate.
- It is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- It is known for its rich hue and therapeutic properties and it is is high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan, for cosmetics and medicinal products, wood-works and musical instruments.
- Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of red sanders costs anything between Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 1 crore in the international market.
- The wood at the centre of the red sandalwood trunk (heartwood) is used as medicine and dyewood.
- Red sandalwood is used for treating digestive tract problems, fluid retention, and coughs; and for “blood purification.”
- According to the Indian Journal of Applied Research, it is a good raw material for musical instruments and high-end furniture.
- Over-exploitation is causing the species to decay in its natural habitat.
- Slow growth and continuous harvesting of the species do not allow the species to grow naturally.
- It has been banned from international trade but despite this the illegal trade continues.