Gaharu wood worth millions seized


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 06 Feb 2018

Highly prized: Some of the gaharu wood seized by forest rangers.

KOTA KINABALU: Seven people were nabbed as forest rangers seized millions worth of gaharu wood, a protected species from a house in Keningau.

Sabah Conservation chief Datuk Sam Mannan said the six illegal immigrants and a Cambodian were believed to have obtained the wood from protected forests, including Maliau Basin.

“The gaharu seized on Feb 2 is worth millions of ringgit,” he said, adding that the raid was conducted after a month-long surveillance.

He said the seven suspects were believed to be involved in the international black market trade.

Mannan said the forestry officials found the wood packed and sealed.

“It looked like it was ready for export.

“We will make sure that these suspects are charged in court for the offence,” he said in a statement.

Karas trees – or aquilaria malaccensis – are being logged by the tens of thousands in Malaysian jungles, mostly by foreigners because of the valuable agarwood, known locally as gaharu.

One kilogramme can fetch between RM4,000 and RM20,000 and its woodchips – which are turned into essential oils used in perfume and incense – fuel a RM26bil global trade every year.

In 2004, the National Forest Inventory estimated there were 3.06 million karas trees in the wild but today, that number has more than halved to 1.16 million, according to the latest data from the Forestry Department.

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