Woman arrested with endangered sandal wood worth Sh750,000

The tree is in huge demand in East Asia.

42 year old woman arrested with endangered sandal wood worth Sh750,000

A 42-year-old woman woman has been arrested by a multiagency security team on her way to Mombasa from Athi River in possession of endangered sandal wood estimated to be worth Sh750,000.

According to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) the woman identified as Beth Wambui alias Mama Liam was ferrying 250kgs of the endangered species. "The fine-grained pieces of wood recovered concealed in the trunk of her vehicle," DCI narrated.

The aromatic tree is harvested illegally after the government outlawed its harvesting in 2007. However, unscrupulous traders continue to uproot the tree predominantly found in Baringo and Samburu counties.

"The suspect will be charged with dealing in endangered wild life species contrary to section 92(2) of the wild life conservation and management act," stated DCI.

Sandalwood smugglers, who work with cartels and brokers, have penetrated remote villages in Kenya, whose residents are ignorant of the value of the precious wood.

Owing to the locals’ limited knowledge of the trees’ commercial value, the outsiders lure them to cut the trees and sell on the cheap, thereby continuing to perpetuate the illegal trade.

Demand for red sandalwood is mainly in the overseas market, said a trader and it comes mainly from countries like China, Japan, Myanmar and other others in East Asia.

According to Institute of Wood Science & Technology the wood gives cooling effect when applied externally for inflammations head-ache, bilious affections and skin diseases and improves treating headache, skin diseases, fever, boils, scorpion sting and to improve sight.

On the business side, it is a good raw material for music instruments and luxury furniture, according to Indian Journal of Applied Research.

It also yields Santaline dye, which finds use in colouring foodstuff and pharmaceutical preparations and additionally, the extracts obtained from the tree bark and wood are known to have several medicinal properties

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