Berhampur, November 18 (LocalWire): Forest officials have busted an interstate gang of red sandalwood smugglers with the arrest of its three people near Labanyagada under Mahendra forest range in Gajapati district on Sunday.
The officials seized five logs of precious wood weighing around 200-kg that the men allegedly smuggled from the Lababyakota jungle, a forest official said.
The arrested smugglers have been identified as Vikash Yadav and Abhisekh Majhi of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, and Mohammad Asish of Itaha in Uttar Pradesh, Paralakhemundi divisional forest officer (DFO) Vivek Kumar stated.
Forest officials suspect that the red-sandal log might be part of the trees that were uprooted due to the severe cyclonic storm Titli last year and were lying in the reserve forest.
The smugglers had covered the logs with green coconut to hide them, the forest officer stated.
The forest officials had intensified patrolling and checking of vehicles in the area after it received a tip-off and the team led by the Mahendra forest range officer Kabina Parichha apprehended the smugglers and recovered the red-sandal wood.
Earlier, the forest officials had arrested one person with a 72-kg weight red-sandal wood log from the Gandahati reserve forest last week.
The red sandalwood, considered as endangered, has high demand in the International market, mainly in China and is used for preparing medicines, handicraft items, furniture, and perfume.
The wood was generally smuggled to China via Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and West Bengal and Nepal, forest official suspect.
The trading of red sandalwood, however, was prohibited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement between governments, which ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.