Large scale Smuggling of SandalWood trees
Discovered in the Nagarhole National
INCERT INVESTIGATIVE REPORT dated 15th July 2002
Institute for Natural Resources Conservation, Education, Research & Training (INCERT)
INCERT investigation team has now discovered that smugglers are systematically looting and plundering
the Sandalwood trees from the Nagarhole National Park. In just about a weeks time, thousands of invaluable sandalwood trees
and teak trees have been illegally felled by the smugglers in several parts of the park. Sandalwood and Teak trees are being
looted chiefly from the following areas; 1) Dayyada Katte 2) Erekatte 3) Valageri Katte 4) Billena Hosahalli and 5) Chamalli
Kadu. In addition another patch of 66 acres in the Mattigodu forest range, outside the National Park near Beruthammara halli,
which is between BR Kaval and Titmatti Chain Gate, has also been a target of the sandalwood smugglers in recent weeks. Hundreds
of Sandalwood trees have been systematically felled by them in this patch as well. One has to drive down a stretch of 5 kms
from Panchavalli, towards BR Kaval to see the devastation being caused to this fragile ecosystem.
It is now clear that some locals of Beruthammara Halli, Hemmige Halli and Devaraj Colony have been enticed to the illegal Sandalwood trade by the smugglers from Mandi Mohalla,
and Chinni Chowka areas of Mysore. The Sandalwood trees are being cut by the locals during day time itself using imported
stainless steel blades and axes. The bark is discarded and only the strongly scented yellow heartwood is removed and neatly
cut to 2 feet long billets. These billets are packed in gunny bags and smuggled out of the forest boundaries and they are
then concealed in bushes near the road at selected points and telephonic messages are sent out to their regular contacts in
Mysore. Most notorious sandalwood sale points are presently spread over Dodda Hejjur, Kappana katte Hadi, Sindena Halli, Hebbur,
Veerana Hosahalli, and Billena Hosahalli. The prospective buyers from Mysore arrive in their cars at the pre-designated spots
and after inspecting the sandalwood billets, they negotiate its price and strike the deal.
The money is collected and the bags containing the sandalwood billets are loaded into the cars. One Kilogram of Sandalwood
billet may fetch the tree cutter anywhere between Rs 300 and 500. Some smugglers do arrive in two wheelers and carry loads
upto 30 kgs of sandalwood billets at a time. Teak trees are also being looted on a large scale along with sandalwood trees,
from Chamalli forest near Kolavige. The elephant proof trench near Doddahejjur has been filled up to transport the logs, via
Kappana katte and the logs are stocked near the Doddahejjur water tank area.
Lorries arrive around midnight and the logs are loaded clandestinely to the lorries and transported to Mysore. Similarly,
large scale smuggling activities are noticed by the INCERT team at Valagerikatte forest, which is a part of the Veeranahosalli,
Moorkal and Nagarhole forest range. The logs from the Valagerikatte forest are transported during the silent hours of the
midnight from Hanagod via the Hyrige and Chilakunda route to Mysore. INCERT team could count stumps and roots of around 400
sandal trees that have been cut recently, in the sixty six acre forest patch in Beruthammara Halli alone. Thousands of Sandalwood
trees have been cut in many other parts of the National Park, as mentioned above and the smuggling activities are continuing
Local guards and watchers in League?
What is most shocking is the fact that these activities are going on unhindered even in places
adjacent to the forest guards quarters, and despite an avalanche of criticism,
no efforts are being made by the department to nab the culprits and stop their illegal activities. It is impossible to carry-out
the tree cutting and smuggling activities without the explicit knowledge of the local forest guards and watchers, and its
is therefore reasonable to infer that some guards and watchers are in league with the smugglers.
Apathy of the forest officials
The genuine fears expressed by environmentalists time and again, that
the National Park has become a haven for smugglers and poachers alike, are being scorned upon by the forest officials. The
recent discovery of the sale of deer meat in the open, and the arrest of two
poachers for killing a spotted deer at the Kaamana Koppalu forest near H. G.
Kote, by the police officials on 3rd July 2002, is a good example of the indifferent attitude of the forest officials. This
poaching incident was reported along with the photograph of the confiscated dear carcass and the poachers. However, the forest
officials exhibited a scornful attitude and the did not bother to investigate the poaching incident. The apathy of the forest
officials have added to the woes and frustrations of the wildlife lovers across the state, who have always maintained that
the forest department is doing precious little to curb this escalating poaching menace. Some jeep tracks inside the National
Park are in such a bad shape, the officials have stopped patrolling in these areas months ago. An impressive gauntlet of saws,
guns, nets, snares and jaw traps have taken over the National Park and this is indeed distressing. But, the forest authorities continue to down-play the incidents of poaching by issuing press notes
declaring most poaching cases as natural deaths or as stray incidents. Scores of Spotted deer, Sambar, wild cats, jackals,
peacocks are regularly hunted down for their meat which is sold in the neighborhood villages. Their pelts, are neatly packed
and sold to contraband dealers who arrive early in the mornings to collect them. Yesterdays confiscation of thousands of skins
of Snakes and lizards by the Bangalore police, has once again vindicated the stand taken by the wildlife lovers.
Diminishing Ecological Riches
The ultimate irony is that the challenges inimical to the interest of
the Nagarahole National Park are not being dealt with an iron hand by the forest department. The escalating incidents of poaching,
timber smuggling, and misappropriation of funds, on one hand and the perpetual inertia in dealing with these serious problems
on the other, are diminishing the ecological riches of the National Park, like never before.
Lack of environmental Vision and Concise.
The enhanced deforestation activities in the last decade or two have already
devastated the water holding capacity of our reservoirs, tanks and lakes. In
many waterbodies across Karnataka, the water holding capacity has come down by 60 to 80%. The monsoon rains are bringing more
and more silt into the reservoirs from the catchment areas, which are prone to a high degree of soil erosion on account of
loss of tree cover, in the forests of western ghats.
The Chief Secretary and the Private Secretary to the Chief Minister of
Karnataka, camped for days in Washington during May 2001, and lobbied hard for a loan of
Rupees 6000 crores from the World Bank. This astronomical sum was required to take up desilting activities in lakes,
tanks and reservoirs of our state. However the loan was delayed due to strong
protests from the neighboring Tamilnadu State, which expressed serious apprehensions about its share of the water from the
Cauvery basin, being impounded by the enhanced water storage capacity in the lakes, tanks and reservoirs of Karnataka, on
completion of the desiltation activities.
The biggest ecological challenge facing our state is how to stop the ongoing
deforestation activities. But Karnataka has time and again failed to address the problem of deforestation as a strategic priority.
This has emboldened the creed of the greed, whose continued deforestation activities will take
many districts of the state towards a possible waterless future. The people of Karnataka, especially those living in
regions declared as drought prone, have to prepare themselves with eternally weary eyes to face such an unpardonable self-made