Edible Birdnest farming can be considered an ideal, most exciting and a very lucrative business. This venture is suitable for those who live in parts of Cambodia, Southern Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippine and Indonesia. This blog is dedicated to my findings, crazy ideas, encounters with newbies, comments from friends, local news, pictures relevant to Birdnest plus my personal experiences and knowledge gained in swiftlet farming.
Biologist receives top honors for his exemplary commitment to the natural world.
Few of us know it, but much of what we know today about swiftlets in Sabah and Sarawak is thanks to a member of the English nobility. Studying the biology and behaviour of the tiny birds which build edible nests has been the lifelong interest of British conservationist Dr Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, Fifth Earl of Cranbrook.
But that is not all that this chartered biologist is passionate about. For over 50 years, Lord Cranbrook has been a global leader in the fields of mammalogy, ornithology and zooarchaeology (the study of faunal remains). He has helped pioneer wildlife research in Malaysia, Indonesia and Britain, along the way raising awareness on biodiversity and ecology. At age 81 today, he is far from calling it a day and continues to participate in field studies and programmes advocating wildlife conservation.
For his exemplary commitment to the natural world, particularly for supporting conservation efforts here, he has been presented with the 2014 Merdeka Award for Outstanding Contribution To The People of Malaysia – a category presented to foreigners in recognition of their outstanding work for the country.
“I was pleasantly surprised by this award, it’s been an absolute thrill,” says Cranbrook, who was born into a farming family in the countryside of Suffolk County, an upbringing which instilled in him a love for nature. He is a descendant of the first Earl of Cranbrook, a prominent politician who was Secretary of State for India in 1878.
Intrigued by swiftlets
Cranbrook started investigating into swiftlets in Niah Cave while employed at the Sarawak Museum in the mid-1950s where he was responsible for tasks such as sorting out bird specimens and proofreading catalogues. He also sorted out animal bones and remains from archaeological excavations and introduced systematic identification.
He went on to pursue his PhD at University of Birmingham in 1958 and completed his post-doctorate on swiftlets in two years – “quicker than anyone has ever done,” he says, chuckling – mainly because he already had two years of research data from Sarawak. He became a post-doctoral fellow in Indonesia for two years before returning to Malaysia to lecture at Universiti Malaya, from 1961 to 1970.