From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Red Sanders
Mains level : Illegal trade
Red Sanders (Red Sandalwood) has fallen back into the ‘endangered’ category in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
A recently released and trending Telugu movie plot provides a fictional account of red sandal smuggling.
About Red Sanders
- The species, Pterocarpus santalinus, is an Indian endemic tree species, with a restricted geographical range in the Eastern Ghats.
- It is endemic to a distinct tract of forests in Andhra Pradesh.
- It is mainly found in Chittoor, Kadapa, Nandhyal, Nellore, Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
- It was classified as ‘near threatened’ in 2018 and has now joined the ‘endangered’ list once again in 2021.
- It is listed under Appendix II of CITES and is banned from international trade.
Status of legal protection in India
- The Union Environment Ministry had decided to keep Red Sanders (red sandalwood) OUT of the Schedule VI of Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, arguing that this would discourage the cultivation of the rare plant species.
- Schedule VI regulates and restricts the cultivation, possession, and sale of a rare plant species.
Significance of listing
- It was a moment of celebration when the species was lifted off from the endangered category for the first time since 1997.
- Over the last three generations, the species has experienced a population decline of 50-80 percent.
- It is also scheduled in appendix II of the CITES and Wildlife Protection Act.
Threats to this species
- Red Sanders are known for their rich hue and therapeutic properties, are high in demand across Asia, particularly in China and Japan.
- They are used in cosmetics and medicinal products as well as for making furniture, woodcraft 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.
Try this question from CSP 2016:
Q.With reference to ‘Red Sanders’, sometimes seen in the news, consider the following statements:
- It is a tree species found in a part of South India.
- It is one of the most important trees in the tropical rain forest areas of South India.
Which of the above statements is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Post your answers here.
Back2Basics: Red List Categories of IUCN
Species are classified by the IUCN Red List into nine groups specified through criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation. They are:
- Extinct (EX) – beyond reasonable doubt that the species is no longer extant.
- Extinct in the wild (EW) – survives only in captivity, cultivation and/or outside native range, as presumed after exhaustive surveys.
- Critically endangered (CR) – in a particularly and extremely critical state.
- Endangered (EN) – very high risk of extinction in the wild, meets any of criteria A to E for Endangered.
- Vulnerable (VU) – meets one of the 5 red list criteria and thus considered to be at high risk of unnatural (human-caused) extinction without further human intervention.
- Near threatened (NT) – close to being at high risk of extinction in the near future.
- Least concern (LC) – unlikely to become extinct in the near future.
- Data deficient (DD)
- Not evaluated (NE)