Three women were arrested in Siem Reap province on November 18 in connection with illegally trafficking swiftlets, according to provincial Forestry Administration chief Mong Bunlim.
Bunlim said the three suspects were caught with a total 250 dead swiftlets which had been de-feathered.
“After they were questioned and educated, they signed letters promising to stop trafficking wild animals. Our specialists decided to fine them according to legal procedures. A total of 250 [dead] swiftlets were set on fire,” he said.
Bunlim said one of the suspects had bought the birds from locals who had trapped them while others were caught with nets on bodies of water.
“Our specialists will continue to cooperate with local authorities to crack down on cases of setting nets to catch swiftlets in local areas. Otherwise, swiftlets will go extinct surely,” Bunlim said, adding swiftlets like to live in low-lying areas close to the water.
Those in the legal swiftlet business praised the crackdown and called on people to stop selling them and their eggs at markets.
Khy Soksan, a Siem Reap businessman who has worked with swiftlets, told The Post on November 18 that swiftlets do not eat crops, rather they eat insects which destroy crops.
Soksan also said swiftlets could bring in millions of dollars in yearly income to the nation through their saliva, which they use to build their nests. The nests are then sold as a delicacy throughout Asia.
Soksan added that one swiftlet can produce $10 of income per year for up to 15 years, while a swiftlet that is sold for meat can fetch only 2,000 riel ($0.50). It represents a large loss, especially considering the offspring they could have produced, Soksan said.
“Please stop killing swiftlets to eat them. We must join hands to protect and preserve swiftlets more and more,” he said.
He continued that in the future, Cambodia will establish a factory to process the saliva of swiftlets for export to China. If there are no swiftlets, this sector will be crippled, he said.