The Star

Tuesday, 16 April 2002

Curb illegal harvesting of bird’s nests, urges NGO


MIRI: The Borneo Resources Institute has urged the state authorities to get in touch with Unesco to find out how best to curb the illegal harvesting of edible bird’s nests from the Mulu National Park.

Unesco could help because it might have the experience in dealing with such problems in other parts of the world, said BRI, a non-governmental organisation involved in research projects involving the ecosystem and native communities in Southeast Asia.

The call comes in the wake of an attempt last Wednesday to smuggle more than 100kg of nests from the world heritage site.

Seven suspected middlemen were caught red-handed with more than 100kg of the delicacy with a market value of up to RM500,000.

That theft attempt reflected merely the "tip of the iceberg,’’ BRI state co-ordinator Raymond Abin said.

He said the institute had highlighted the issue four years ago after receiving complaints from locals living in Mulu.

"I brought up the issue during a world heritage conference held in Mulu in 1998 after we discovered that these nests were being frequently smuggled out of the park by people who were not from Mulu.

"The locals in Mulu had been constantly complaining about outsiders coming to Mulu to steal the nests.’’

Abin said more stringent measures must be taken to curb excessive commercial exploitation of the natural assets in Mulu.

"Some locals have been issued permits to collect the nests because they need a means to survive.

"However, there are outside towkays who have keen interest in the collection of these nests for selfish financial motives,’’ he said, adding the outsiders had recruited locals to conduct the illegal harvesting.

Abin said the Forestry Department might need to monitor the entry of outsiders into Mulu and supervise their movements and the cargo they take out from the national park.