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What does Krill Fishing and Sandalwood Harvesting Have in Common?

At first glance, there is no way Krill and Sandalwood could have anything in common: one is a sea animal and the other is a land plant. If you examine the plight of both species of biodiversity, then there are some similarities.

Ice on AntarcticaWorld renowned Kenyan conservationist, Dr Richard Leakey, who just returned from a trip to the Antarctic, reports in his blog that Japan has developed very effective Krill fishing techniques that ensure great success for the fishing boats:hauling massive tonnage of the tiny crustacean. As a result, they are rapidly depleting the resource. Krill are tremendously important as the base of virtually all vertebrate food chains in the sea.

This depletion of the basic food of the sea, according to Dr Leakey, is affecting the entire food chain and having detrimental effects on large and charismatic sea animals higher up the food pyramid such as whales, orcas, penguins and seals. Add to this the effect of the terrible global warming/climate change twins and the survival of wildlife in the Antarctic becomes rather strained. Dr Leakey says:

The other alarming information I obtained was that the Krill (the essential base of the food chain for the vertebrate fauna) are also being depleted. Whilst climate change and its effect on ice flows and pack ice have a major bearing on this, there is today massive fishing for krill by Japan. I was told that new techniques for extracting krill at a far greater tonnage were now having devastating effects on the population density. This will have an additional impact upon the survival of other biodiversity further up the food chain.

Sandalwood is also caught up in the same over-extraction debacle. A Kenyan example is drawn by Saving Kenya's Forests blog. The blog says:

Kenya is losing the Sandalwood tree (Osyris lanceolata) to illegal harvesting. The harvesting – initially reported in the Chyulu hills – seems to have escalated and has now been reported in Kajiado, Taita, Amboseli and surrounding ranches, Samburu, Koibatek, and Kikuyu Escarpment and many other areas. In most areas it’s being harvested without much control.

Sandalwood is mostly used in making perfumes from its essential oils within the heartwood of its trunk, main branches and roots. According to the blog, the sandalwood is being traded in neighboring Tanzania and after semi-processing, the product is exported “to Indonesia, India, South Africa, France, Germany and eastern Asia countries for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry”.

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