Arusha — AFRICAN sandalwood trees are in danger of extinction due to increased illegal logging in Ngorongoro and Karatu districts, Arusha Region.
The head of conservation at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Mr Amiyo T. Amiyo, said in the past the trees used to be found in many parts of Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro regions but many have now disappeared.
Scientifically known as Osyris lanceolata is used for its scented wood and to extract oil for making perfumes and various pharmaceutical products. They are in high demand in China, India, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"The buyers here pay per truck loads," explained Mr Amiyo adding that a single one tonne pickup full of sandalwood logs can fetch up to 1m/- or more and the buyers like to get everything, tree trunks, branches and roots. "We have already written to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism asking them to assist us in protecting the trees because last year we managed to impound over 10 tonnes of illegally harvested sandalwood logs," said the NCAA conservation head.
According to Mr Amiyo, there is a factory based in Babati which has been discovered to process the sandalwood trees. The ministry has also been informed about the factory and asked to warn the firm's management on the racket.
Last year people believed to be illegal harvesters of sandalwood, burnt down a car belonging to NCAA taking hostage the driver and officers during one of the operations to combat the loggers in northern highland forest.
The other threat in the northern highland forest reserve is elephant poaching and recently three Jumbos were killed by poachers and their tusks removed.