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Second edition of swiftlets book

Published on: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Lord Cranbrook whose 2002 book "Swiftlets of Borneo" helped spark the phenomenal growth of a multi-million dollar swiftlet house farming industry in Malaysia and the region said its future hangs on "true sustainability management rules".

House farming of swiftlets increased hugely throughout Borneo since Natural History Publications (Borneo) published the first edition that year, its author Lord Cranbrook noted at Tuesday's launch of the second edition which he co-authored with his former PhD student, Lim Chan Koon.

State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, officiated the launch at Kinabalu Hyatt Regency A pleased publisher Datuk CL Chan noted that the phenomenal impact validated Cranbrook's "authoritative work" which earned the full trust and confidence of numerous amateur and professional Birds' Nests Farmers in Malaysia and Southeast Asia as a reliable reference.

"This exciting new form of domestication is happening before our eyes for the first time, since the domestication of dogs, cats, cows, pigs, and opportunities to investigate the process to ensure its success should not be ignored," Lord Cranbrook said.

He suggested that Sabah target "true sustainability", citing proven cases in Sarawak which had seen regular, progressive increases in swiftlet populations as well as harvests where natural wild populations which flourished. Their human guardians prospered wherever they used Dr Lim's harvesting methods called 'Lim's management rules."

"Now that this phenomenal house farming had really taken off, it now what requires attention," Lord Cranbrook said.

"Firstly, we really need to understand, promote the necessary scientific research into many aspects of taxonomy, especially biology origins and management of house farming swiftlets, especially research to do better sustainable practices as already house farmers are complaining numbers are declining and management is not being successful," he noted.

"Secondly, we need to prevent undesirable impacts, as we don't know what the impacts of these two traditional populations of aerial birds are having on the migratory swallows which spend the winter here and breed in China," he added.

"Thirdly, it is very important to resolve the social issues because many house farms are causing social disturbances being located in urban area.

Only when these conditions are satisfied will we be able to ensure the long term sustainability of house farming as a major element of the rural economy of Sabah and elsewhere in Borneo," he said.

Masidi hoped the second edition of Cranbrook's book will "enhance knowledge " as well as profitability of swiftlet farming.

"Yes make money out of but you can only make money out of nature if you look after nature and this is the biggest challenge we have here in Sabah - drawing a fine line between our responsibility and keep nature pristine."

"I would like to think that in the years to come, there'll be better management of our swiftlet caves, such as Gomantong which is fast becoming a tourism product by itself," Masidi said.

Since the book is educative and helps to increase public knowledge about swiftlets, it will contribute to better management of the caves not only to improve productivity of birds nests but will also help the tourism industry to prosper, Masidi said.