Selasa, 25 November 2008

WHITE GOLD Losing All it’s Glitters.


Sarawak has, what was thought to have only one species of swiftlets Aerodramus Fuciphagus that build edible white nest. These rare and protected species are found in limestone caves around the Long Lama, Middle Baram. Bau area in Kuching and small populations found around caves in Sarawak.
There are 10 or more species of Swift lets and swallows in Sarawak and I have only limited knowledge on these species .
There are also a small population of a NEW or HYBIRD species of swift lets (described by Datuk Seri Lord Carmbrook in his recent talk in Bintulu) found roosting around all the major towns in Sarawak which he named Fuciphagus Domesticus. The name implies that are domesticated animals like cattle and pigs .
So far no DNS has been done to confirmed this suggestions. This species are found in abundance in Kalimantan side of Borneo. About 10 years ago due to forest destruction, forest fires and haze have resulted in a mass migration of swiftlets from Kalimantan into Sarawak.
Many Sarawakian and rich swiftlets farmers from Kalimantan also move their families out of the country , myself included and took my whole family to Sabah where the haze was within tolerable level.

These NEW or HYBIRD swiftlets behavior and habits are different from their cave cousins. Although sharing the same food sources they shelter and nest in abandon buildings and man made structures as they are unable to survive in caves. Not only their behavior are quite different from the cave spec sis their nest and nest composition are distinctively different. Like other domesticated farm animals live along side human , roost in buildings like shophouse and other man made structures like under bridges and mosques seeking our protections from predators like owls, snakes, lizard to name a few that are less frequently found in towns and cities. With the growth in fuciphagus domesticus populations they started occupy abundant shophouses in Serikai, Mukah and Bintulu.
This new alternative farming started about 8 years ago and soon more shophouses were converted into bird house. It takes at least 3 to 4 years of diligent and patients and substantial investments to see a reasonable return .
This coexistent with human have created a wonderful relationship between man and swiftlets where we provide housing the swiftlets paid rental in nest after being abundant by the baby swift lets. As the nest start to come into the market ,this created a boom in sales of the once worthless shophouses to be converted into Swiftlets Farming as demand and prices of Bird Nest skyrocketed to around RM4000.00 per Kilo of unprocessed nest most of which found their way to the newly rich China . More investors rush in to tap into this lucrative US2 billion per annul business and earning millions of foreign exchange.
In the last 10 years BH in Malaysia have mushroom to about 35,000 Bird House built at an approximate cost of RM200.000 per Bird House.
This reflects a RM 7 billion worth of investment and created a windfall in areas where there is a big populations of Swift lets like Mukah , Serikai and Bintulu . Abundant shophouses worth RM100.00 were turned into BH and sold up to RM1 ml.
Only 20% of BH are successful so more money were poured into seminars, Consultant services and BH building contractors. This new alternative farming created a new economy .
This wealth are spread evenly to the general population and many farmers have turn this into their core business and their whole family livelihood and children’s education depends solely on Swift lets Farming.
The spin off made a huge impact that benefited everyone in these small and backwater communities Swiftlets farmers must realize that the unregulated building of BH by less civic conscious owners have caused an eyesore and noise pollution. Authorities must have received complains of nonsense caused by Swiftlets Farming in shophouse , of cause mostly are from environs neighbors.
Since the outbreak of Bird flu Dr. Redzuan and his team from Bahagian Pertanakak Burong Walet have taken more then 5000 swabs from swift lets around Malaysia and NONE ! and I repeat NONE according to their report, been found to be infected or carry the bird flu virus. Datuk Seri Lord Cranbrook in his recent talk in Bintulu, share the same opinion and stress that they are airborne from time they leave the BH until they returned at night souring to 1000ft and a radius of 25 kilo meters and have no contact with other specises on birds.. The same applies to cave Swift lets and the good news is that it is safe to visit the Niah Caves and Mulu Caves where you are walking on bird’s and bat’s droppings. Fuciphagus have no hind legs and are unable to parch on trees and wires like swallows and Martins. Negative comment by layman who do not owned any BH, that the filth and worms and insects infestation inside BH is simply not true. BH are sweep clean once a month, the dry sawdust like droppings, and depending on bird population varies from few grams to a couple of kilos .
If BH is dirty and the floor is wet this will caused the Bird Nest to turn yellowish hence will not command premium price and right now with the depressed market of between RM1700.00 to RM2800.00 inferior nest are rejected. It is dangerous to use health scare tactic to justify the destruction of BH. Seritis (grass swift lets), Gigas, Sparrows, Pigeons, roosting on five foot way ,window seals, cellings and roof of houses and shophouse.
Martins an swallows and starlings by the hundreds of thousands roost on wires and ornamental trees planted by the councils through Sarawak and tons of bird shit are everywhere roads, awnings, rooftop of parked cars . These Migratory Birds posted even greater chance of bringing in disease from as far as Mongolia and Japan through Bird Flu countries like Thailand and Vietnam. Priority should be given to address this problem. We in Sarawak have to treat this unfounded accusesation with extreme caution . Such irresponsible comment can cause the collapse of the US2 ml industry and destroy the livelihood of millions in south East Asia , the only region that produce Edible Bird Nest. I don’t think our neighbor where their bird nest industry which is bigger their oil palm industry will ever forgive us.

At last finally the authority clamp down on illegal BH starting in MUkah . Please Forgive the BH owners ignorance of the regulations as all these simple law abiding citizen of Sawawak living in these small and isolated towns fails to understand why is so wrong to make an honest living like our better off brothers in West Malaysia where in some areas Bird House in shop lots are given licenses.
I am sure the authorities have good intension to enforce regulations for the betterment and the establish a proper and sustainable Swiftlets Farming Industry .
Its too good an opportunity to missed the good fortune to inherited the million of Fuciphagus Domesticus from our Neighbor destructions of forest and decimated burning used for clearing land for oil palm. The method of breaking into private property and the inhuman killings of baby swift lets is not a pretty sight.

My heart cries to see the videos and photos thousands of chicks and birds that were strewn on the floors crying and dying a slow and painful death. The circulations in utube world wide will certainly raise eye browse and paint a very ugly picture of Malaysia and may affect out tourist industry. Many Buddhist onlookers took them home in a failed attempt to safe them. I don’t know of any human beings who can be so heartless and capable of decimated killing despite the pleaded for mercy not to kill these protected species that the enforcers are suppose to protect.
Religious grounds alone will allowed us to do such deeds and even animals do have rights.
Their claim that these are instructions from their BOSS is unbelievable, This is classic case of abuse of power. BH owners are not obstructing any Government officers from carrying out their duty but trying to protecting their investment and livelihood especially the enforcers never identify themself.
This subject was brought up during talk on Borneo Swift lets in Bintulu and Datuk Seri Lord Cranbrook is not willing to make any comment on this matter .
He was further asked if he can recommend a humane method of euthanasia to humanly kill the baby birds , he commented that he don’t know of any method. The authority must seek an acceptable method to address this problem . All the eyes of the world and animals Right Group will be in Mukah come the deadline 31st December 2008 to celebrate the New Year. May god have mercy on the innocent swiftlets.
It is hope that the authority will hold dialogue with effected farmers. To address and assist them to relocate their operations into designated zone and to comply with proper rules and regulations like in Pig Farms .
At this moment all the BH owners are in the dark on the requirements myself included . May I humbly suggest to giving BH owners a break say a grace period of 2 years to cease and relocate their operations to an approved zone.
This will prevent Hardship, break up of families and many will be declared bankrupt as the once upon a time worthless shophouse they purchase to tuen into BH will not be rentable.
Many business that depends on Swiftlets framings will surely suffer if not go under. They are victim of circumstances because of ignorance rather snubbing the authority. please forgive them.

I sincerely urge all BH owners to be patient and stay cool and do not resist the enforcers actions , seek legal advise .
You, like the baby swiftlets have rights. Please reject the rumors that the Government is trying to destroy the livelihood of a certain group. BH owners Touch our own heart , if just to a please you for your votes the Government allows unregulated farming of swiftlet it will Spiro out of control and in the long term will do more harm then good.
Please don’t listen to few opportunist and con artist going around claiming to represent certain powerful people and can guarantee a license for XXXXXX. Report these people to the appropriate authority their enunciation on corrupt practice should not be tolerated.
Many effected BH owners in their desperation will easily fall prey to this scam. Please have confident in our Sarawak Government to be transparent and above board and have a gunuine desire will look into the citizen’s welfare and to create a prosperous society of law abiding citizen that will continue to support the Government to create a strong and peaceful Nation and May God Bless Malaysia.

Ben Chai

Blogger Note:
This video just to remind to readers about Mukah Tragedi - 15 October 2008

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