brutal murder of the Sandal Tree

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Aug 17, 2010, 7:47:51 AM8/17/10
Dear All
This is a sad day for us today.
This morning when we got up, discovered that the most wonderful Sandal tree on the boundary of our home (227, RMV Extn., First Main, Bengaluru) was brutally cut by some Sandal robbers/mafias and its remains were lying in our front garden. 
According to our neighbour (who had planted and taken care of the tree over the last 15 years), this happened around 2.00 am when he heard some sound of the electric saw and  noticed something happenning in his garden from the first floor window.  He screamed and ran down, however by the time he reached down the robbers escaped with a log of wood.  He called the police who recorded the crime but expressed helplessness about such incidents.
This was a beautiful tree over 10 m high and base dia of about 25 cm.  We knew the economic importance of Sandal tree, however we realised its ecological importance while observing variety of birds visiting the tree for the last 10 years.  Some of you may remember that I had shared many observations on these e-groups and most of them were from this one tree.  Koels, Barbets, Mynas, Sunbirds, Tailor birds, Warblers, Squirrels were the regular visitors, whereas occassional visitors included Whiteeyes, Chloropsis, Crowpheasant and a variety of butterflies .  Purplerumped Sunbirds nested in this tree once.  Its beautiful evergreen foliage provided so much coolness to our homes.  And now in one night that all is gone!  All the birds have been orphaned.  The tree was flowering and fruiting just now and It was sad to see the koels still visiting the fallen tree this morning in search of their regular food.
We were very very sad, and at the same time very angry!  Helpless!!!
We know that this is a common affair in Bengaluru.  We know that even high security zone of IISC is also not free from such vandalism.  These robbers/mafias are so reckless that they attack/shoot the guards/owners trying to prevent such cutting.  These are gangsters who have well organised market strategy and links.  Why can't our police / intelligence agencies / forest department nab them.  Perhaps it is too much to expect!  The work of these robbers has become more efficient because of electric saws which are silent and finish the work in a few seconds.  Why cannot these saws be banned?  We ban guns, revolvers and other weapons which does not stop murders but at least there is some control and way to nab and punish the muderers.  These electric saws have become the weapons of mass ecological destruction.  Why can't government ban them and allow only restricted/licensed use? Can the Forest Department take such initiative?
Last few years, we have been promoting the plantation of Sandal trees mainly for its ecological value and its fast growth and hardy character.  We grow saplings on our terrace and distribute them as presents to our guests.  Everyone likes these gifts and they keep giving us updates about the wonderful growh of those saplings.  We enjoy this and shall keep doing it.  Howeve we have started worrying about our own tree on the other side of the garden.  It may not be still ready to catch the robbers attention.  However we need to guard it carefully, for our birds and butterflies.
Let us all try to bring in some governance to protect this wornderful tree, particularly in our urban environment.  Let us also try to propagate this tree more and more, everywhere for its ecological importance and spiritual character.  :Let its fragrance spread all around that way.
That is our tribute to our wondeful companion who had given everyone so much happiness!
Prof. Ulhas Rane
Envirodesigners Pvt. Ltd (Formerly 'The Designers')
'Brindavan', 227, Rajmahal Vilas Extn. II
HIG Colony, First Main Road
Bengaluru - 560 094
Phone: 080-23417283
Cell: 09448149236

Pankaj Oudhia

Aug 17, 2010, 10:05:23 AM8/17/10
to efloraofindia
Really very sad Prof. Ulhas. Next time please try to use Black Mucuna like climbers on such old trees if they are far from public place. Black Mucuna will punish the robbers in a way that they never think of it in this life. There are hundreds of options available in form of plant species capabale of keeping such robbers at bay. Let me add, the species used to protect such trees itself have economical uses. Take the example of Black Mucuna. It is boon for patients having Parkinson's due to presence of L-DOPA. Judicious use of seeds will protect from diseases round the year if you take it internally. Also Mucuna is very useful plant for pets. But it is not for public place.

We are using it to protect our crop fields from two wheelers to four wheelers i.e. from human beings to wild boars. ;)


Pankaj Oudhia  


Aug 17, 2010, 10:21:54 AM8/17/10
to efloraofindia

Oudhia ji

please elaborate "Black Mucuna will punish the robbers in a way that
they never think of it in this life"
And other such plants


Brij Mohan Bhardwaj


Aug 17, 2010, 10:26:36 PM8/17/10
to Ulhas,
Its really a very sad incidence Ulhas ji.
I think many of us have similar experiences too. I was also a big victim of this smuggling. I was terribly shocked when i found two sandalwood trees that are grown (naturally but) in our field were cut during a bad night. They were medium sized trees about 6-7 m tall and i used to grow them with lot of pride. But my field is little far from my residence, so no direct protection. The smugglers have cut the trees, leisurely trimmed all branches, removed unwanted bark and sapwood there itself and taken the heartwood alone. A big tree that used to found in the nearby temple also cut in the same night. This is not the listen to this also: I have seen several very large sandalwood trees in my study area in Javadi hills (known for high quality sandalwood trees) in Tamil Nadu during early 2000s. Over a period of few years, almost all the well grown trees were illegally cut by the smugglers and now you can find only few saplings and seedling, not even a single tree. For foresters, when the situation came between saving the trees or saving their own lives, they obviously opted the latter. Ironically, the smugglers did not leave even trees found well within the forest department campus in a particular range protected by live electric wire and strict vigilance. (i don't know how far Mucuna fruits' stinging hairs will protect sandalwood trees from the target-oriented irony smugglers with modern tools).
So please don't get emotional. Take it easy because we just can't help it. The trees are Govt's property as long as they are live; once they are cut, they are smugglers' property. You can't own at any stage. So plant many other fruit-yielding plants for the birds, forget about sandal trees.

With regards


mani nair

Aug 18, 2010, 1:04:35 AM8/18/10
to Vijayasankar, Ulhas,
Ulhas ji very sad to hear the theft of Sandalwood tree.  Actually these thieves are so selfish, don't realise the future loss.  They want quick money.   I think the idea of Mr. Soares is good.  There are some plants like ( I dont know the English name) Khaj Khujli which when comes into contact with body gives terrible itch.  Next time please cultivate such plants around.  I think this also is not a solution as the thieves are very clever. They first study about the tree and try to remove all hurdles.  

I have seen similar theft at Urli Kanchan Ashram in Pune.   We were very surprised to see the cut tree.  The watchman told us that when the tree was cutting they heard the noise and the watchman run there to catch the thieves, but they ran away leaving the cut tree there only.    We rubbed our hand on the cut portion and the fragrance was heavenly.  I was very sad on that day thinking about the cut sandalwood tree.  Let's pray to God to give some "Buddhi" to these thieves.



Pankaj Oudhia

Aug 18, 2010, 2:02:46 AM8/18/10
to efloraofindia
I feel that it is not a question whether Black Mucuna and other species are effective or not? It is effective as tribals specially Traditional Healers are using it since time immemorial to protect rare species from greedy traders and Wood Mafia. The success lies on the method through which you use these species. If the robbers are clever, no problem we can also upgrade our protection with the help of rich traditional knowledge.


Pankaj Oudhia
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