“Swiflet Breeding has grown out of control locally in recent years. The growth of the ‘industry’ in my city and region (Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia) has been phenomenal. They are scattered all over the city, in the heart of the city, in shops near residential areas; any abandoned building will do. These buildings are called ‘Swiftlet Hotels’ (or house-farm buildings, see Lord Cranbrook LINK and LINK).
“When I was in Borneo recently (Kuching) I even saw purpose built buildings to house the swiflets. Now there are adverts offering training on how to set up such businesses. See attached picture advertising a training course in my city!
“There are many problems associated with swiflet breeding – the key one being noise pollution. The industry plays the songs/calls of the bird continually during the day, and at time during the night. These can be quite tough for nearby home and businesses.
“There is also concern that some eager swiftlet farmers may not wait for birds to lay eggs or hatch but harvest nests once built.
“More importantly, as doctors, some of us have been concerned that the vast increase in swiflet breeding activities may be related to viral illnesses especially Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. Recent outbreaks in the region have been localised near urban swiflet breeding sites and the suggestion has been that water storage by swiftlet farmers in the swiftlet hotels to enable ideal humidity for birds is also breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry these nasty (and occasionally fatal) viral fevers. Evidence is hard to obtain but concerns need to be addressed.
“In July 2010 The National Guidelines for Swiftlet Breeding were finally produced by the government. The government says it will regulate the industry but in the same breath speak of it as a cash cow. Four months down the road we do not see much change in terms of regulation but lots more swiflet breeding development.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
6th November 2010
More information on swiftlet farming in Malaysia, provided by Allan Teo can be viewed in HERE and HERE. These farmers will shoot or trap-and-kill any birds that they consider a threat to their swiftlets – and mist nets are often used LINK. They even shoot Barn Owls that do not attack swiftlets
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