Apparently this is not the first time this has happened. The lashing rains make it hard for the security guards (10 for the 250+ acres) to do their job, leavign the trees vulnerable to sandalwood smugglers. It is theorized that the smugglers enter through the estuary and cut up the trees during the rains. They either take the trees with them or bury them in small bags in the beach, returning later to collect their goods.
Here is today's article from the Times of India.
And here is one from November of last year from the Indian Express.
Although the Indian Government has imposed many regulations on the harvesting and cutting of sandalwood trees, be they on public or private property, there is no ban on its export. Most of the smuggled sandalwood from India finds its way to the Middle East or to the US, where sandalwood oil is used as a base to make many perfumes. Sandalwood has traditionally been used extensively in Indian cultural practises, making sandalwood oils, pastes, incense sticks and the like prized possessions among the Indian diaspora. The internet and the newspapers tell me that the illegal sandalwood trade continues to grow, endangering this species in many parts of south and south east asia.
Aerial view of the Adyar estuary from wikipedia
How do we protect these trees?
Maybe each one of us can do our bit by not patronizing sandalwood products, be they in soaps, powders, oils, perfumes or incense sticks. I for one love my perfumes, but it saddens me deeply to see the indiscriminate cutting of trees to make them. Here are some perfumes that i realised use sandalwood as a base. To their credit, I do not know whether they use natural sandalwood or synthesized compounds.
Ardenbeauty by Elizabeth Arden
Emporia Armani Night for Her by Armani
Dior Addict by Dior
Sicily by Dolce and Gabbana
Hot Couture by Givenchy
Mahora by Guerlain
Glow by J.Lo
Absolu by Rochas
Manifesto by Isabella Rossellini
Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood
Mahora by Guerlain
Kenneth Cole Black by Kenneth Cole
Paris Hilton Siren by Paris Hilton
Chanel Coco by Chanel
Hanae Mori Butterfly by Hanae Mori
The Love, Ralph Lauren by Ralph Lauren
Diva by Ungaro
Obsession Night by Calvin Klein
Donna Karan Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan
Jennifer Lopez Still by Jennifer Lopez
Kylie Minogue Perfume - Darling by Kylie Minogue
Pure White Linen Pink Coral for Women by Este Lauder
Parisienne by Yves Saint Laurent
There are many more, I'm sure..
Do you know more about this issue? Do share your knowledge and thoughts through the comment form.