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

Suara Nyanyian dan Panggilan (I)

Suara Nyanyian dan Panggilan (Bird's Song and Calling Sound) Burung dapat membuat suara dengan cara mematuk-matukkan paruhnya ke kayu (burung pelatuk), mengadu paruhnya, namun pada umumnya suara burung berasal dari suatu organ suara yang disebut syrinx. Syrinx memiliki sepasang membran yang akan bergetar dan mengeluarkan suara ketika udara dari paru-paru melewatinya. Nada atau intonasi suara yang dihasilkan dikontrol oleh otot syrinx. Burung yang memiliki lebih banyak otot pada organ suara akan lebih banyak mengeluarkan suara yang bervariasi. Misalnya burung Murai Batu memiliki banyak otot organ suara, sehingga suara yang dihasilkan sangat bervariasi dan mempunyai suara yang panjang serta merdu. Burung ini mempunyai kemampuan untuk meniru berbagai macam suara burung lainnya.

Suara Nyanyian dan Panggilan
Banyak ahli burung membedakan suara burung menjadi dua, yaitu suara nyanyian dan suara panggilan berdasarkan nada, panjang dan pendeknya suara serta variasi suara.
Nyanyian burung berkaitan dengan berkembang biak sedangkan suara panggilan berkaitan dengan aktifitas mempertahankan diri. Suara panggilan merupakan suara yang sederhana dan pendek, biasanya tek tek, chir chir, twet twet, cek cekrek, dan lain lain. Suara pendek ini dipergunakan untuk memberi peringatan kepada rekan-rekannnya jika ada predator yang mendekat. Sering kita lihat bahwa sekelompok burung walet akan sangat ribut jika ada seekor burung elang yang terbang rendah mendekatnya. Suara pendek ini juga digunakan untuk mengusir musuh. Sering juga kita lihat burung alap-alap dan burung elang yang sedang bertengger di pohon dikelilingi oleh burung walet atau seriti yang mengeluarkan suara dengan tujuan untuk mengusir burung pemangsa tersebut dan sering pula burung walet beramai-ramai melakukannya sambil mengejar burung alap-alap atau burung elang sambil berteriak-teriak sehingga sang alap-alap atau elang melarikan diri seolah-olah mereka berhasil membuat sang burung elang ketakutan dan melarikan diri.

Beberapa jenis burung yang hidup di daerah empat musim dan melakukan migrasi secara berkelompok, menggunakan suara panggilan untuk mengkoordinasi kelompoknya selama perjalanan migrasi yang panjang. Burung yang sedang bersarang, panggilan dari anaknya akan memandunya untuk kembali ke sarang. Setelah mencari makanan anaknya, induk akan mengikuti suara burung muda di sarang sehingga tidak kesasar. Selama bersarang, terutama saat mengerami, jenis suara panggilan juga digunakan kedua induk untuk menandai pergantian waktu antara mengerami dan mencari makan.


Sabtu, 22 November 2008

New Book - Akuntansi Ekuitas

One more book from Michell Suharli

Kamis, 20 November 2008

Comment from my Blog Reader

Poppercaster berkata...

Stay cool Pak Hen.

I don't know you personally and have not met you but bought your book and believe you know what you are talking about. Judging for own observation since involved in this industry early this yr, I have read quite a bit on the net as well as purchasing many books from Eka and also attended seminar.

Traced back some of the things written by some famous bloggers dated back in 2007, you get to know bit of their background and knowledge too. I was so surprised to read some articles where they mentioned harvesting new bird nest without waiting for the chicks to fly away in some forum and now these people are famous sifu bloggers after one yr.

When I started early this yr, there were some commotion in the forum. Remember one forummer given warning to others to be careful of this blogger. Slowly I know why. I paid ~$50 for a simple .doc file which he claimed to be donated to churches and temples, that's fine if he is sincere. Even teh tarik with him also chargeble. What a joke.

Newbie also cant be so silly, with a old friend mentor who owns +10 BH to verify his claims.

Don't worry if you conscience is clear Pak.

Rabu, November 19, 2008 10:39:00 AM

Persahabatan bagai Kepompong

Lyric lagu: Sindentosca

kepompong.mp3 - sindentosca

Persahabatan bagai Kepompong

Dulu kita sahabat / Teman begitu hangat
Mengalahkan sinar mentari
Dulu kita sahabat / Berteman bagai ulat
Berharap jadi kupu-kupu

*) Kini kita melangkah berjauh-jauhan
Kau jauhi diriku karna sesuatu
Mungkin ku terlalu bertingkah kejauhan
Namun itu karna ku sayang

Reff: Persahabatan bagai kepompong
Mengubah ulat menjadi kupu-kupu
Persahabatan bagai kepompong
Hal yang tak mudah berubah jadi indah
Persahabatan bagai kepompong
Maklumi teman hadapi perbedaan
Persahabatan bagai kepompong
Na na na na na na na na

Semua yang berlalu / Biarkanlah berlalu
Seperti hangatnya mentari
Siang berganti malam / Sembunyikan sinarnya
Hingga dia bersinar lagi

Lagu tersebut di atas merupakan salah satu lagu ciptaan Sindentosca…

Lyrik lagu ini mengajarkan kepada kita untuk dapat mengerti tentang persahabatan, kita harus dapat mengerti orang lain sebelum kita ingin dimengeti oleh orang lain. Demikian pula halnya kita harus mau memberi orang lain terlebih dahulu sebelum berharap orang lain memberi.

Give and Take instead of Take take take and take, never give. Or... Take and then FORGET TO Give

Photo di atas adalah photo JADUL (jaman dulu) sewaktu saya masih kuliah di Universitas, saya ada di tengah di apit 2 pelatih dari Pas Khas.
Enak mempunyai teman dan sahabat, tanpa wasangka, tanpa prasangka, bersatu dengan satu tujuan, tiada yang makan tulang kawan, suka dan duka ditanggung bersama. Indah dan Damai!!

Kami bergabung dalam Perhimpunan Pencinta Alam dan Lingkungan "Wanachala" - Unit Kegiatan Mahasiswa - Unika Atma Jaya Jakarta.
Kami yang ada di photo ini merupakan angkatan perintis yang dilatih oleh TNI Angkatan Udara - PasKhas (Pasukan Khas) 461 dan merupakan pendiri serta pengurus Wanachala.
Indahnya suatu Persahabatan

Rabu, 19 November 2008

Jungkat & Pontianak

I received email from Malaysian reader asking about Jungkat and Pontianak.

Jungkat is about 12 miles from Pontianak city. Pontianak is capital city of West Kalimantan.

Testing of Black Thunder

Black Storms VS Neighbour's BH Sound

I received this video from Pak B on 28 October 2008. I just received his SMS today informed me that his BH already had birds stay at least 40 birds and everytime many birds coming into his BH.

Readers, Pak B just using my sounds (external and internal sound) 1.5 months ago and his BH design is did by himself.
1.5 months ago he sent me his BH sketch and photo by email. I did retouch little bit and advise him what he should do by email.
Same thing I did with pak Eddy's BH. Initial design is by himself, but near the finishing I did retouch.
I am not the BH contractor, not the seller of swiftlet equipments at this moment and I am not charge to pak Eddy and pak B a single cents for consultation. I help them with my heart, I assist them are not because of money... but friendship.

Selasa, 18 November 2008

Comments of Harry Blog - Pak Eddy's BH Pontianak

I want to explain about what Harry wrote in his blog and his comments of pak Eddy's BH.

Firstly, I didn't know what his motives suddenly wrote comments of pak Eddy's BH, as I knew that he visited pak Eddy's BH when he went to Jungkat, Pontianak, last month (October 2008).

What Harry wrote in his blog is wrong, because:
1. Pak Eddy's BH is just start on beginning of July 2008, so right now just 4.5 months instead of 10 months as mentioned in Harry's blog
2. On 21 September 2008, I went to Pak Eddy's BH with our friends, Pak Syam and Pak HianHing. I just open the door and I felt the birds have stayed. We check the birds shit dropping, and found the birds shit in the ponds, at least 11 birds shit dropping. All birds stay on the middle near the center tweeter on styrofoam. We can see clearly that the styrofoam used by birds.
3. Yesterday, 17 November 2008, Pak Eddy told me that at least already 30 birds stay, 3 nests half cup and many nest marking. So what Harry wrote in his blog is totally wrong.
4. The temperature and humidity relatively stable as shown the temperature and humidity data log which sent to me by Pak Eddy.
5. No harm using the pool / ponds inside BH.
6. Entrance holes size is only 40 cm x 60 cm is not too large and will not cause the internal micro habitat unstable. We have designed properly to prevent it. And I don't want to tell what I did, since many copy catter.
7. Not many tweeter and need to double the tweeter quantity? We not make surround concert in pak Eddy's BH and for your info pak Eddy is expert in audio, he know very well in audio and have complete sophisticated gadget for audio and installation.
8. Concrete nesting plank has advantage and disadvantage and debatable.
9. Pools inside in the BH will not make humidity always above 95% if we have good control on air circulation.
10. Pools on top of the roof and covered by shading net, it is Pak Eddy's good idea after I explained to him what the disadvantage have pool on the top roof.
Harry don't know what the function.

Finally, I can say that what Harry commented on Pak Eddy's BH is too arrogant and unproffessional as he mentioned that no one can help pak Eddy's BH and he suggested to sell.

For your info, pak Eddy's BH using my external sound and internal sound as commented by Harry is not good.
I have many many version and sounds from slow rock, disco till dang dut which can make your birds come and stay.
You can see the above video, using Lacur New version, Slow Rock... you can see the birds flying... How???

Sabtu, 15 November 2008

Farming Bird's Nests in the City

Kota Bahru’s merchants find a lucrative second income in their eaves and attics

birdsnest A coffee shop in the northeastern Malaysian city of Khota Bahru rings with the incessant chirping of what sounds like hundreds of birds although only 20 or so flit about. Asked about the mystery, a woman named Lim said “It's artificial. The bird nest farmers put the music on to attract the birds."

Far from the jungles of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, where swifts, tiny, fast-flying birds about the size of a sparrow, build their nests in the crevices and corners of caves in total darkness, Kota Bahru is turning into a city of birds. The sound is designed to attract swifts so that collectors can steal their nests, capitalizing on soaring demand for birds’ nest products.

In Kota Bahru, the capital of the northern state of Kelantan in peninsular Malaysia, creative businessmen have brought the swifts’ traditional breeding grounds to them – making it a lot easier to steal the nests than the traditional time-honored way, clambering up shaky bamboo ladders in total darkness in caves to “mine” the nests, fighting off giant crickets and snakes that can climb the walls to snap up chicks. A vast array of other creatures live in the caves, feeding on the guano that the birds have left in the caves for millennia and making it no fun for the nest farmers.

Here, however, it’s infinitely easier, and less hazardous. The houses that are turned into caves have their windows sealed to create a dark, cave-like environment. Nests are also farmed in Thailand in much the same way. Pigeon holes dot the outer walls. Some even have humidifiers to create the damp atmosphere that the birds like. Such buildings dot the town, some of them shophouses in the older parts of the city dating back to before the Japanese occupation from 1939 to 1945.


According to Ms Lim, these "bird houses" are popular, as their nests can fetch up to RM5,000 (US$1,532) per kg depending on the quality.

According to Ms Lim, these "bird houses" are popular, as their nests can fetch up to RM5,000 (US$1,532) per kg depending on the quality. The highest grades are curved like a bowl, and clean. The swifts build their nests from their saliva, which hardens into a bowl shape. In raw form, the nests are usually a mix of saliva, feathers and even droppings before they are cleaned. They are basically tasteless until mixed into soup. But as with many products in Asia, it is assumed that the saliva has a wide range of health-giving qualities – including, inevitably, acting as an aphrodisiac, in addition to clearing up skin problems, reinforcing the immune system, strengthening the lungs and improving the constitution. It is also believed to balance the mysterious force known as qi, or life force.

The Chinese have been eating birds’ nest soup at least since the T’ang Dynasty, AD 618-907, importing the nests mostly from the island of Borneo, but the Communists put a stop to it when they took over in 1949, considering consumption to be “extravagant.” That era is long gone. The fast-growing wealth of the Chinese has led to a surge in demand for the ingredients, with the country importing so much from tropical countries that it is threatening swift populations and has led the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, more popularly known as CITES, to consider adding swifts to its list of endangered species.

In Hong Kong, always a birds’ nest bastion, a bowl of bird's nest soup can cost from US$30 to US$100. A decent bowl of quality soup is about US$50. As China's economy has continued to boom, prices have skyrocketed but locals lament that they may be eating fake nests in a country where forgery is rampant. In the west, birds’ nest soup is often dried noodles rather than the real thing, but westerners don’t know the difference, by and large.

The high prices have generated a spate of burglaries in Kota Bahru. Hence, many have fortified security, including closed-circuit cameras (CCTV), barbed wire and heavy-duty locks. But still these don't deter determined thieves armed with industrial lock cutters.

Kota Bahru’s farmers, most of them Chinese, are secretive about the trade and how to generate it. Certainly, the birds can be fickle. If they come, they create a money machine that requires little maintenance. All is necessary is to harvest and clean the erstwhile cave. But turning a shophouse into a cave depends on location, luck and technology.

Some parts of the city attract more birds than others, the farmers say, although why is a mystery. "This is a Grade A area. See lots of birds flying around," Lim said. Property prices in such zones are higher. Some shophouses can cost more than RM1 million (US$306,000), an exorbitant amount considering rental income for the ground floor averages around RM2,000 (US$612).

To lure the birds, which breed in colonies, the sweet sounds of chirping females are played constantly on expensive high-fidelity speakers. According to one breeder, playing the wrong “music" will repel the birds. Residents around such farms have grown so accustomed to the sound that the constant chirps no longer irritate but have become familiar background noise.

But even setting up a pseudo-cave in a Grade A area and playing the right music may not guarantee that the birds will come. A degree of luck is involved as some hardly have any birds building nests. "Some of them just attract bats only," Lim said with a laugh.

Written by Jed Yoong
Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Jumat, 14 November 2008

Swiftlets in Thailand

(12-19) 04:00 PST Muk Island, Thailand -- High in the caves of Thailand's idyllic southern islands lies an unlikely treasure that people are willing to kill for -- the nest of a sparrowlike bird called the swiftlet.

About a half-dozen companies, which have been granted concessions by local governments to gather swiftlet nests for the lucrative bird's nest soup market, are protecting their fiefdoms with private armies that shoot at "unauthorized" visitors. They also bribe authorities to look the other way, charge tourist operators protection money and keep locals suspected of being poachers from their traditional fishing grounds on the coast of the scenic Andaman Sea.

These concessionaires are so secretive about their operations on about 140 cave-ridden limestone islands that few Thai officials have any idea what they are up to or are willing to provide much information.

"The bird's nest companies are big and influential," said a bureaucrat from the tax revenue department in Bangkok who spoke off the record. "We can't give out information (about their activities) to just anyone."

But it is no secret that swiftlet colonies are being depleted to supply Chinese restaurants with edible nests from glutinous globs of dried bird saliva that are cooked in a broth. The soup is popular because it is believed to help growth, skin complexion and sex drive, prevent lung disease and stave off aging.

When a swiftlet's cup-shaped nest is taken before it can lay eggs, the bird is forced to build another one. In the caves, collectors shimmy up bamboo poles lashed together with liana vines. Death and injury from falls are not uncommon.

The climbers typically take two nests from each bird, allowing the bird to rear its young in a third so the population can regenerate. But high demand has increasingly caused gatherers to take that nest as well, and baby birds are sometimes thrown away.

A local source familiar with the bird's nest industry said there are only one-third as many nests as there were a decade ago, and the swiftlets have abandoned many caves.

"When the resources are of such high value, the temptation is to take as much as you can get hold of," said Charli Evans, representative in Thailand for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international group that monitors commerce in endangered species.

Many people interviewed for this story were afraid to speak on the record. A resident of the town of Puhuket who has spoken out against a nest company's violent tactics has moved his residence four times because of death threats. "It is a dark business," he said.

The Chinese began eating bird's nest soup about 1,500 years ago. Today, millions of nests are sent to Chinese communities around the world. Hong Kong is the world's largest market, followed by the United States, mainland China and Taiwan.

Some call it "white gold," because a kilo (2.2 pounds) sells for almost $2, 000. A bowl of bird's nest soup at a good Hong Kong restaurant can go for as much as $60. Thailand exports about 19,800 pounds annually, which generates $23.8 million in taxes.

A push by CITES to protect swiftlets has failed, mostly because of opposition by southeast Asian countries where so much money is at stake.

In Thailand's southern Trang province, a company called Satun Trang Bird's Nest recently obtained a five-year concession on swiftlet nests. Fishermen on Muk say company speedboats have chased them away and armed men have shot at them if they sailed too close to company operations. In the early 1990s, clashes between licensed collectors and locals who poached on nest concession areas resulted in the deaths of 29 villagers in a nearby area called Pattalung, according to the Bangkok Post.

"I was standing at the head of my boat looking for schools of fish," said San Khang-Nam, who, along with his son and nephew, was recently wounded by guards shooting at them when their boat approached company operations. "I didn't have any idea what had happened (until) I felt the heat of the blood running down my leg."

Daraeb Meun-Phakdee, an elderly resident who has fished on Muk since childhood, says the island has become too dangerous. "I can't even feed my family anymore," he said.

Area fishermen have filed police reports after each attack, but their complaints typically have been ignored. Fear of trigger-happy security guards is so great that a Muk fisherman recently sailed into a typhoon rather than risk waiting out the storm near a concession area. His boat sank, and he drowned. His daughter clung to a piece of Styrofoam and managed to drag her father's body ashore.

Apichit Angsutrangkul, who runs Satun Trang Bird's Nest, did not return calls seeking comment.

Until 1997, the bird's nest industry was governed by a 61-year-old law. Then new legislation decentralized control, giving local governments the power to grant five-year concessions to the highest bidder in exchange for tax payments of $252 per kilo collected. This new system is riddled with corruption, most observers agree.

The companies avoid paying higher taxes by reporting fewer kilos. "If they get 600 kilos, they report 200. I should know. I used to count them," said a former manager of Satun Trang Bird's Nest, who asked to remain anonymous.

A committee headed by the local governor is supposed to oversee the tax collection. "There are no real checks," said Issama-el Bensaard, a committee member and industry critic. "The checks take place in hotel restaurants over red wine and meals hosted by Satun Trang Bird's Nest. They even serve us bird's nest."

Ironically, many islands are part of national parks and should be protected by the Royal Forestry Department. Yet concessionaires often have refused access to forestry officials.

"We are not getting the full cooperation of the companies," said Schwann Tunhikorn, director of the Royal Forestry Department's Wildlife Conservation Department.

But Somsak Kittidhrakul, president of P.P. Cabana, owner of the nation's largest bird's nest concession of almost 100 islands, says he is taking the necessary precautions to preserve the swiftlet.

"To conserve the bird population is the first tenet of our business," he said. "We wouldn't kill our own livelihood now, would we?"

This article appeared on page A - 16 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Kamis, 13 November 2008

Swift Success in Urban Nests

Singapore, 11 November 2008
The New Paper - Reported by: Benson Ang

The swift commonly found in the nesting house of Mr. Francis Tay and his friends are known as the white nest swiftlet.

While bird's nests are traditionally formed in limestone caves in Borneo, Malaysian and Indonesian urban dwellers began discovering nests in the upper levels of their homes about 20 years ago.

These homeowners then started selleng these nests to meet the increasing demand for the delicacy in China.

By the late 1990s, these dwellers chose to live elsewhere, and devote their houses exclusively to harvesting bird's nests.
These nesting houses typically have row of circular apertures on the sides of their walls, which provide ventilation without admitting harsh sunlight and winds.

According to the investors, swiftlets lay about 6 eggs a year - two eggs every four months.
The nests are composed of solidified saliva and built during the breeding season. It takes the shape of a shallow cup stuck to a cave wall, or roof batten.
After nestings have left, the nests are harvested and any feathers in the nests are removed.

Bird's nest soup is prepared by soaking the nests in water. It is said to have various medicinal qualities, such as being good for the lung and complexion.

Bird's Eye View - at last

Singapore, 11 November 2008
The New Paper - Reported by: Benson Ang

Finally, a peak into "man-made" bird's nest house. Owner are usually secretive, but the S'pore investors of four such houses in Kota Tinggi let The New Paper in. They say farming bird's nests this way can rake in big returns.

In Kota Tinggi, Johor, there is an old shophouse which is protected by an alarm system, strong iron grilles and two security guards to keep out intruders at night.
You might think there are valuable goods or cash inside, but no. All it holds is saliva. Lots of it.

The saliva comes from swiftlets, and the solidified fluid of the birds is the key ingredient in bird's nest, the exepensive Chinese delicacy some have termed "white gold".
The lucrative business of harvesting bird's nest using old buildings is not new - in 2005, The New paper reported that Singaporeans were renting these shophouses for that purpose. We also reported taht Malaysians were doing the same.

Trade Secret
However, the "technical know-how" of swiftlet farming has become trade secret of sorts. Most farmers will not talk about their method, fearing that they would be copied by rival farmers.

Last week, three Singaporean who have bought a partial stake in such swiftlet houses invited The New Paper in for a look.

Mr. Rufus Chua, 26, Mr. Francis Tay, 37, and Mr. Donovan Tiong, 30, have invested in four nesting houses, or "bird houses", in Kota Tinggi. The bird's nests produced are exported to China.
Mr. Tay joked that they can informally charge a few hundred Ringgit for just a short tour of bird house, but for The New Paper, it was free.

When we approached their most "matured" nesting house, three storey high, we could see tiny black birds hovering over it.
We entered. The sound of chirping swiftlets was so loud, we understood why earplugs were recommended.
Mr. Tay pointed us to the speakers which emitted the sounds, which were designed to attract swiftlets to nest in house.
With our torchlight switched on, we saw that the floor was covered with birds droppings, which are often used by farmers to "scent" the nesting ground.
The pungent smell was inescapable. Mr. Tay pointed too a corner where a humidifier (swiftlets like humidity) was clearly visible.
As workers in their helmets, headlights, face masks and boots proceeded with their harvesting, we saw swiftlets flying across the room. They were so close, we could hear their wings flapping.
We looked towards the ceiling and saw, on the wooden battens, two rows of white bird's nests. Several still contained the feathers of the very birds which made them. Some were empty and ready to be harvested. Others had a swiftlet still building the nest. Still others contained eggs, and a few held pink, featherless baby swiftlets.

$ 2,000 a kg
Mr. Chua said the "matured: bird house can produce at least 3 kg of harvest a month, with each nest weighing 8 gram to 10 gram. He added that bird's nest can fetch $ 2,000 per kg.
The three friends, who are investing in the venture through a Malaysia - registered company called Beaufort Asset Technologies, estimate that harvesting bird's nest ha an annual return of 18 per cent for the first 10 years.

Mr. Chua said:"We can make more from the house by attracting swiftlets instead of human tenants."
Mr. Tay said:"It's like a gold nest, or gold mine."
The group met four years ago at a business seminar, where they became friends, and started investing together.
Two years ago, they started buying vacant shophouses and converting them into nesting houses.
The three have also invested in real estate, financing, mortgaging, and are now looking into buying oil palm plantations.
When asked why they choose shophouses in Malaysia, Mr. Chua replied:"Well, we can't have a nesting house in Orchard Road. Malaysia's also not too far away and there's no langguage barrier."

In term of revenue, the investors revealed only that they collectively spent a six-figure sum to buy and convert the four bird houses. Now, after two years, they claim to have recovered 40 per cent of this sum.

Upkeep "minimal"
Most of the cost comes from paying the mortgage because the upkeep of the houses is "minimal".
The investors said they sell the bird's nest to a processing centre, but declined to reveal further details.

Mr. Tay said that producing bird's nest in shophouse is more effective than in caves because "you can control the environment, and save ob transportation cost and time".
But he qualified that not all nesting houses succeed. "There are many factors, like the house's temperatur, layout and amount of sunlight."

So are they producing natural bird's nest? Mr. Chua said: "Yes, only the environment is artificial."
And are they manipulating nature by producing bird's nests in shophouses? "No. We're just doing it in more controlled environment. And we're protecting the swiftlets from predators. The swiftlets are just our guests, who pay their rent through saliva."

Minggu, 09 November 2008

BUBUR SARANG WALET ALA AWILIGAR, Bandung: Mendengar kata bubur, biasanya asosiasinya langsung ke bubur ayam atau bubur kacang hijau. Tapi di Bandung, Jawa Barat, ada bubur yang terbuat dari sarang burung walet. Jika Anda datang ke daerah Cigadung, Awiligar, Bandung, tidak salah Anda mampir ke warung bubur walet. Di warung Ana Maesaroh ini Anda akan disuguhi makanan unik yang sangat bermanfaat bagi kesehatan.

Selain mempunyai nilai gizi yang tinggi, bubur yang terbuat dari air liur burung walet ini dipercaya bisa menyembuhkan aneka ragam penyakit kronis. Mulai dari darah tinggi, hepatitis dan kecanduan narkoba. Bahkan, dipercaya bisa menambah stamina laki-laki.

Ana Maesaroh menyatakan, ia menemukan resep ini saat berkunjung ke Lampung. Setelah mencoba bubur walet, penyakit asma yang ia derita selama bertahun-tahun akhirnya dapat disembuhkan. "Ini sangat berguna untuk kesehatan. Sudah saya buktikan enam bulan ini," kata Ana Maesaroh. Apalagi, kata Ana, cara memasaknya juga mudah.

Untuk mendapatkan sarang burung walet, Ana biasanya mencari ke Pulau Ambon atau Lampung. Satu kilogram sarang burung walet Ana membeli dengan harga Rp 8 juta. Kemudian satu porsi bubur burung walet ini Ana menjualnya dengan harga Rp 250 ribu per porsinya. Dalam satu porsi bubur mengandung 50 gram sarang burung walet.

Bila Anda ingin mencoba khasiat bubur sarang burung walet, datanglah ke kediaman Ana Maesaroh. Tidak percaya? Dengar komentar Tedi. "Rasanya enak, hangat, seperti bubur ayam," kata penikmat bubur sarang burung walet.(DOR)

Sabtu, 08 November 2008

Temuluang, Goa Termahal di Kalimantan Selatan

Dari luar, Goa Temuluang tak menarik. Mulut goa penuh semak belukar. Untuk mencapainya juga harus lewat jalan setapak. Itulah sebabnya goa di dekat Desa Bangkalaan Dayak, Kecamatan Kelumpang Hulu, Kabupaten Kotabaru, Kalimantan Selatan, itu bukan obyek wisata terkenal.

Namun, kesan pada Temuluang tadi bisa berubah begitu kita menyusurinya. Dalam goa horizontal itu ada aliran sungai di lorong gelap. Menurut warga, panjang Temuluang mencapai empat kilometer, tiga kilometer di antaranya berupa alur sungai selebar sekitar enam meter dengan dalam sekitar tiga meter. Untuk menyusuri Temuluang tidak cukup dengan berjalan kaki. Pengunjung juga perlu jukung ketinting, yakni perahu motor tempel.

Di Kalimantan Selatan (Kalsel) kondisi seperti itu diperkirakan cuma ada pada Goa Temuluang. Selama ini dalam memperkenalkan obyek wisata goa di Kalsel yang disebut-sebut hanya Goa Batu Hapu, Berangin, Mandala, Kelelawar, Liang Kantin, Liang Hadangan, Batu Benawa, dan Sugong. Goa Temuluang tidak pernah disebut.

Sarang walet

Meski jauh dari Banjarmasin (350 kilometer arah timur) dan 150 kilometer arah utara Kotabaru, Temuluang sudah jadi rebutan para pemburu sarang burung walet sejak zaman penjajahan Belanda. Sekarang pun Temuluang dikenal sebagai penghasil sarang walet terbesar di Kalsel.

Itulah sebabnya tidak bisa sembarang orang masuk ke dalam goa tersebut. Temuluang pun disebut-sebut merupakan goa termahal.

Untuk bisa masuk, pengunjung harus minta izin terlebih dulu ke pemuka Desa Bangkalaan Dayak. Hal ini penting, karena goa itu dijaga masyarakat setempat. Goa tersebut juga dipercayai memiliki kekuatan gaib. Selain itu, pengunjung juga harus meminta izin polisi yang ditugaskan di sana.

Polisi ditugaskan untuk mencegah konflik terkait dengan keberadaan sarang burung walet di goa tersebut. Beberapa tahun lalu perebutan sarang walet memakan korban jiwa.

"Izin-izin itu perlu bukan untuk melarang. Asal jelas kepentinganya, pasti warga di sini mengizinkan. Apalagi dengan tujuan baik, seperti untuk penelitian atau wisata, kami jelas menyambutnya dengan tangan terbuka. Kami tidak ingin lagi terjadi perkelahian di sini," kata Tiang Han, mantan Pembakal (Kepala Desa) Bangkalaan Dayak.

Sebelum ke Goa Temuluang, Han bahkan justru terlebih dahulu mengantar Kompas ke satu goa berbentuk terowongan besar sepanjang satu kilometer, yang di bagian bawahnya terdapat Sungai Kapuis. Goa yang cahaya mataharinya menyelinap dari depan dan belakang tersebut berhias stalaktit dan stalagnit berbagai bentuk dan ukuran.

Bagi warga yang kegiatan sehari-harinya berburu atau mencari hasil hutan, goa tersebut menjadi tempat yang nyaman untuk istirahat sebelum pulang ke rumah.

Goa Temuluang berjarak sekitar dua kilometer dari sana. Temuluang sangat gelap. Karena itu, lampu senter atau head lamp menjadi kelengkapan yang mutlak.

Gemericik air yang jatuh dari stalaktit dan kawanan burung layang-layang yang beterbangan keluar masuk goa cukup menyeramkan suasana. Hanya suara-suara itu yang memecah kesunyian dan kegelapan.

Dengan lampu senter, terlihat pada langit-langit goa ribuan sarang walet. Keberadaan sarang burung inilah yang menyebabkan goa dijaga sepanjang hari. Warga yang bertugas di sana mencapai 42 orang. Mereka menjaganya secara bergantian setiap dua hari sekali.

Pondok penjaga

Setidaknya ada empat pondok yang dijadikan pos penjagaan Temuluang. Setiap pondok diberi satu lampu minyak, lengkap dengan peralatan masak.

Uniknya, untuk menghubungkan satu pondok dengan pondok lainnya tidak semuanya bisa dilalui dengan jalan kaki, tetapi menggunakan perahu ketinting dengan mesin tempel. Perahu dipakai untuk menyusuri goa tersebut karena terdapat aliran air Sungai Kapuis. Aliran Sungai Kapuis ini diperkirakan merupakan anak Sungai Bangkalaan yang muaranya sampai ke Teluk Kelumpang.

Selain mengangkut para penjaga dan logistiknya, perahu juga dipergunakan untuk memetik dan mengangkut hasil panen sarang burung. Jika memerlukan perahu, mereka biasanya memanggil dengan cara meniup ambung, yakni sebatang bambu dengan panjang 50 sentimeter dan berdiameter 10 sentimeter yang telah diberi lubang sehinga menimbulkan suara bergema seperti meniup sangkakala.

Yang terasa menakjubkan, di goa tersebut ada empat lubang berbagai bentuk yang menjadi tempat keluar masuknya burung walet. Lubang-lubang itulah yang menjadi tempat masuk cahaya matahari ke dalam goa. Berkas-berkas sinar mentari memperlihatkan barisan indah stalaktit dan stalagnit.

Produksi sarang walet

Ambai (54), motoris perahu ketinting yang telah bekerja di goa tersebut sejak masa sekolah menengah pertama, mengungkapkan, produksi sarang burung di goa ini sempat mencapai satu ton setiap kali panen, pada kurun 1970-1980-an. Sekarang ini hanya berkisar 350 kilogram hingga 500 kilogram sekali panen. Panen dilakukan tiga kali dalam setahun.

Dengan perhitungan harga sarang burung walet sekitar Rp 3,5 juta per kilogram, maka nilai produksi sarang burung walet dari goa tersebut mencapai Rp 1,2 miliar sekali panen atau Rp 3,6 miliar setahun. Pengelolaan sarang burung ini saat ini dilakukan oleh PT Walet Lindung Lestari (Wallesta). Puluhan pekerjanya digaji Rp 1 juta per bulan.

Melihat keunikan Goa Temuluang dan keindahan barisan karst yang memanjang di kaki pegunungan Meratus sebelah timur itu, maka sudah semestinya kawasan ini harus diselamatkan dan dikelola secara lebih baik. Jika daerah rusak akibat penambangan batu bara ilegal atau penambang kapur tak terkendali, maka musnahlah kebanggaan nama Temuluang sebagai goa termahal di Kalsel beserta barisan karstnya.

M Syaifullah

Jumat, 07 November 2008

Surga Walet di Sulawesi Utara

Sumber: Trubus Online

Sepuluh tahun lalu jumlah rumah walet di Sulawesi Utara dapat dihitung jari. Lokasinya pun terbatas di pinggir pantai dan pulau-pulau dekat gua. Kini rumah si liur emas Collocalia fuciphaga itu hingga ke Manado, ibukota Sulawesi Utara. 'Di sana bunyi tweeter pemikat walet bersaing dengan suara speaker dari angkutan umum,' ujar Hary K Nugroho, praktikus walet di Jakarta Utara.

Saat pertama kali melacak walet di Manado pada 1998, Hary lebih banyak menjumpai sriti. Sriti-sriti itu keluar-masuk dari puluhan rumah yang tengah disulap menjadi bangunan walet. 'Rumah itu milik penduduk setempat yang dimasuki sriti,' kata pemilik Eka Walet Center itu.

Secara geografis kondisi Manado yang dibelah garis Wallacea itu mirip kondisi awal sentra walet di Pulau Mindanao Selatan di Filipina. Sebelum menjadi sentra, belasan rumah penduduk dimasuki sriti. Lalu telur-telur sriti diganti telur walet, maka berkembanglah populasi walet di sana, disusul berdirinya rumah-rumah walet. Menurut Jimmy di Distrik Samal, Mindanao, yang rumahnya sudah beralih fungsi jadi rumah sriti, materi sarang sama dengan di Manado. Sarang berwarna hijau karena mengandung rumput laut.

Sarang gua
Untuk menemukan sentra walet di Sulawesi Utara tidak mudah. Jejak si liur emas baru terendus bila sudah sampai di Malalayang, sebuah daerah pantai berjarak 1 jam berkendaraan dari kota Manado. Di daerah itu banyak tumbuh pohon kelapa. Di sanalah walet dan sriti tinggal. Sebetulnya sentra walet di Sulawesi Utara tidak hanya di Malalayang, tapi juga di pulau-pulau lain seperti Pulau Sangihe, Pulau Kalama, dan Pulau Siau. Kondisi lingkungan di sentra-sentra itu mirip Malalayang yang didominasi pohon kelapa. Yang berbeda di ketiga tempat itu banyak terdapat gua-gua kecil.

Namun, lantaran terpaku pada gua, pengembangan rumah walet tersendat. Kini di Pulau Sangihe, Kalama, dan Siau terdapat sekitar 50 rumah walet. Padahal, di ketiga pulau itu ada rumah walet sejak 1997. 'Para pengusaha rumah walet yang umumnya dari Jawa kurang melirik Sulawesi Utara karena kendala pengawasan,' ujar Hary.

Perkembangan rumah walet mulai terlihat pada 2000. Sejak itu banyak investor dari Manado, Makassar, dan Surabaya, membangun rumah walet di daerah pesisir hingga tengah kota. Pada April 2008, Dr Boedi Mranata menghitung setidaknya terdapat 50 rumah walet di Malalayang. Ukurannya beragam dengan ketinggian rata-rata 4 lantai.

Salah satu rumah walet seluas kurang lebih 1.000 m2 terlihat tidak kalah megah dibandingkan rumah walet di sentra-sentra di Pulau Jawa. 'Rumah itu kemungkinan telah menghasilkan ratusan kilogram sarang walet,' kata praktikus walet di Jakarta Selatan itu.

Curah hujan tinggi
Kini sentra walet di Sulawesi Utara semakin luas. Lihatlah, sepanjang Manado-Bitung-berjarak ratusan kilometer-rumah-rumah walet bermunculan bagai jamur di musim hujan. Hary memperkirakan jumlahnya sekitar 100 rumah. 'Suasana sentra walet sangat kental. Sampai-sampai suara tweeter rumah walet menyaingi dentuman musik dari angkutan umum,' tutur Hary. Meski begitu, rupanya tak semua rumah berisi walet. Pengamatan Boedi menunjukkan hanya 10% rumah yang sudah memproduksi sarang. Sisanya masih kosong. Boedi dan Hary sepakat hal itu disebabkan desain bangunan yang salah, antara lain lubang udara sedikit dan peletakan tweeter tidak tepat.

Sejatinya agroklimat di Sulawesi Utara, khususnya Manado, cocok untuk walet. Suhu di kota Nyiur Melambai itu berkisar 28-30oC dan kelembapan 80-90%. Curah hujan tinggi, sebesar 3.187 mm/tahun (Manado) dengan panjang musim hujan 11 bulan sehingga lebih basah dibanding Jawa Timur, sentra walet di Jawa. Ketersediaan pakan melimpah karena Manado dikelilingi perkebunan kelapa, sawah, dan hutan.

Menurut Boedi, Sulawesi Utara sangat ideal menjadi sentra walet. Keberhasilan putar telur di Manado sangat tinggi, hampir 50%. Padahal di Jawa atau Sumatera hanya 20%. 'Bisa mencapai 50%, angka yang bagus,' kata alumnus Biologi di Universiteit Hamburg Jerman itu. Artinya bila 10.000 telur sriti ditukar dengan telur walet, bisa diperoleh 5.000 walet. Tingginya keberhasilan itu karena tingkat persaingan memperebutkan pakan rendah.

Telur-telur walet untuk putar telur itu sebagain besar didatangkan dari Jawa, Lampung, dan Bali. Permintaan telur walet di Sulawesi Utara dari tahun ke tahun terus meningkat. Sebagai gambaran Hary rutin mengirim 10.000-15.000 telur/tahun untuk sebuah rumah walet. 'Pembelinya para pemilik rumah sriti maupun walet. Mereka berhasil melakukan putar telur dengan bukti sudah memproduksi sarang banci,' kata Hary yang memiliki lebih dari 10 langganan pembeli di Manado itu. Sarang banci adalah sarang sriti yang dilapisi sarang walet yang terjadi seiring pergantian penghuni dari sriti menjadi walet. (Lastioro Anmi Tambunan)