, Volume 13, Issue 12, pp 2209-2226

Problems in the harvest of edible birds' nests in Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

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Abstract

Due to the value of their nests, there is great pressure on the populations of black-nest swiftlets (Collocalia maximus) and white-nest swiftlets (Collocalia fuciphagus) in the Malaysian provinces of Sarawak and Sabah. The problems are particularly acute at Gunung Mulu National Park, in spite of a complete ban on collection there, and at Niah National Park, where every participant in a complex collection and trading system has an incentive to take more nests than permitted. More successful harvest systems function in Sabah's Gomantong and Madai Caves. Recommendations for improved management of the nest harvest include addressing corruption, ensuring that local people with traditional rights to collect nests do not lose income to illegal immigrant labor and to traders, improving research and education about the swiftlets' behavior and ecology, and moving value-added processing of the nests closer to the caves where they originate and to the people who collect them.