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5 billion baht loss as birds’ nest producing swiftlets found dead

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Police are investigating birds dead and birds' nest destroyed in a Phatthalung cave. (via Nation TH)

Phatthalung authorities have requested help from the Department of Special Investigation to investigate the death of birds. These were no ordinary birds though; they were swiftlets, the birds that produce the saliva that make birds’ nest, prized as a health delicacy. And it wasn’t a few birds, it was over a million birds found dead in caves where Siamnest company has the authority to collect their birds’ nest.

And the financial loss of these birds and the birds’ nests they produce has been estimated at about 5 billion baht.

The company has permission to access 107 caves in Phatthalung’s seven islands and they sent their collection teams to gather the birds’ nest between September 9 to September 17. When they arrived to the last cave, they discovered the remains of more than 1 million birds instead of the nests they were tasked with collecting.

The team found the remains of a fire and various trash strewn about including shoes and plastic bottles. After Siamnest involved the Phatthalung authorities, the Royal Thai Police joined the investigation of the mass death of the swiftlet birds.

Unlike most birds that make nests out of twigs or similar materials, swiftlets make theirs completely out of their unique saliva which solidifies to form the nest. These saliva nests are considered a delicacy, especially in Asian regions, for it’s believed healing powers. Birds’ nest soup is often made by steaming and soaking the saliva nests.

The nests are said to help with kidney health, phlegm reduction and are desired as an aphrodisiac as well. Harvesting companies have become big businesses due to the high price the unique birds’ nest can fetch, with companies like Siamnest getting exclusive access to areas the swiftlets nest or even creating artificial sanctuaries for swiftlets to nest.

Of note, disgraced police officer Pol Col Thitisan “Jo Ferrari” Utthanaphon, whose shocking wealth was revealed upon his arrest for suffocating a suspect in custody, was said to have made part of his fortune by trading birds’ nest.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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