A Thai force dubbed the "Rambo Army" couldn't stop the gangs, armed with battlefield weaponry, as they scoured the forests. Neither could a brave activist, gunned down when he came to investigate. Nor, apparently, can governments across Southeast Asia.
The root of the conflicts and bloodshed? Rosewood.
The richly hued, brownish hardwood is being illegally ripped from Southeast Asian forests, then smuggled by sea and air to be turned into Chinese furniture that can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of it also ends up in the finest American guitars, or as billiard cues.
The felling, almost all of it illegal, has increased dramatically in recent years and driven the region's rosewood to the brink of extinction.Save the rosewood forests! Sell them to the highest bidder.