Since the close of the 16th century AD, the edible nests of swiftlets have aroused the perplexed curiosity of European travellers to South-east Asia, while at the same time providing one of the most important constituents of traditional Chinese medicine. For both cultures — western and eastern — this book clarifies the nature of these nests, the troglodytic lives of the birds that build them, and the exploitation of this highly valuable natural resource.
Successively, and together, the two authors have studied these matters for 55 years, from Sarawak through the length and breadth of Borneo and beyond. Borneo is now the world’s most important source of wild edible nests. These are built by four species of swiftlets, three of which echolocate while the fourth does not.
This significant difference is reflected in details of the birds’ breeding cycles, elucidated in full for the first time in these pages. With this clear understanding, it is at last possible to recommend procedures, now proven by the lead author’s work to be effective, for the sustainable management of this unique wildlife resource. There is, at last, real hope for successful programmes of sustainable management. The advice is contained within these pages!
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