The endangered Pterocarpus erinaceus rosewood tree is becoming increasingly scarce in Senegal. The reason: illegal harvesting and smuggling are on the uptick. As was recently chronicled in a report put out by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), roughly 1.6 million rosewood trees have been illegally logged in Senegal. After being harvested, the trees have apparently been trucked to the neighboring nation of Gambia before being sent internationally, an effort that was uncovered in 2012.
Driving this illegal harvesting is the instability of the region. Illegal logging is presumed to have started around 2010 in rebel-held forests in Ziguinchor district. Although a cease-fire has been in place since 2014, it remains very difficult for the Senegalese authorities to enter the border areas because of landmines and guerilla fighters. This instability has given traffickers just the cover they need to take advantage of the situation.
Not surprisingly, the Senegalese government classifies rosewood as “conflict timber.” The rebel group involved in the racket is estimated to have earned $19.5 million from the illicit trade between 2010 and 2014.
To make matters worse, their illegal logging of rosewoods is getting worse. As reported in Mongabay:
“Observers say the trafficking abated for a while, but EIA’s data show the rate of trafficking has in fact worsened over the past two years…The former dictator, who has tribal connections with the Casamance, established rosewood trafficking as his fiefdom, reportedly making millions of dollars in exports through a parastatal company in Banjul, the capital.”
The full story is posted on Mongabay.