Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scenes - Sarikei Nyelong Swiftlet Ranching

Sarikei Nyelong River 2007
View from Sarikei District Office building.
Find the Nyelong River Esplanade next to ferry point.
Find the yellow building

Remember this photo that was published last year in a post? I asked whether anyone knew what that yellow building was. A reader sent in a picture below (taken across Nyelong River) that may or may not be that building but that's not our story today. Let our story begin now.

It's a bird, it's a plane,, it's superman, hold on, no,'s a bird indeed. It's a swiftlet, not just one, but many! There's a commercial term for this type of bird's nest farming and harvesting called swiftlet ranching.

Sarikei Nyelong Swiftlet Ranching, 2008
Source: Chris Lu

Swiftlet ranching is not as simple as blasting mating calls out of speakers installed in a building and expect swiftlets to start homing in. An analogy: you can't just build a town in the middle of the nipah swamp and expect human couples to build their home and grow the population there. Bottom line is that the mood must be right.

There are entrepreneurs that call themselves "consultants" who can help you in swiftlet farming. They help you choose the best location to build or convert an old house into a ranching house to capture the flying routes of the swiftlets. Then they help you decide how to build entry and exit holes, select plank material and installation pattern for the swiftlets to build nests.

Then the mood must be right: They show you how to regulate lighting, temperature and humidity (leave the floor damp with water). You also need to make the swiftlet feel safe by minimising access to predators. Then there must be a macro habitat with ready supply of insects for feeding. Then learn swiftlet breeding techniques and plan nest harvest schedule to support the regeneration of the bird population.

When the baby swiftlets have grown up and left the nest, the empty nests will be ready for harvesting. Some farmers use a mirror on a stick to examine whether the nests are empty before moving the ladder over. The empty nests can be sprayed with water to make it softer for scraping with a tool. The smelly droppings on the floor can also be collected as fertilisers.

Sarikei Nyelong squatters, 2008
Attap (Nipah Palm) and wooden houses
Source: Chris Lu

The swiftlets live better than some squatters in the Nyelong area. The irony of life.

It's a bird's life. Do you have a nested interest?


Daniel Yiek said...

Can someone confirm whether the big building in the 1st picture is the swiftlet ranching house?

The picture contributor did not specifically mention where in Nyelong did she take the pics.

Tuan Lokong said...

Yep, I guess Daniel they are several similar building like that along Sarikei Sibu stretched. I was approached by a guy at one time to build one on my land.

Not yet sure of the viability, it will costs about rm50,000 to build the complex. After that if the swiftlets is happy they will enter if not? then leave it to the ghost...hehehe...well exagerate a bit. Sure the price is good for birdnest at the moment. Then it will take three years to make an investment back. I saw some were built and left alone later.

The picture must be taken from Wisma Jublee building where the land survey offices.

lidasar said...

Hi Tuan Lokong, do you have old Iban's tales to share? I think you must have 1930s - 1950s stories of Penghulu Eman who represent Sugai Sarikei and probably also representing your long house. Penghulu Ah-Nin represented Sugai Neylong then.

These old record are very important for Sarawak and Sarikei's folks as we are all facing the same danger of being sidelined by uncompromising west Malaysia.

John Lu said...

Hi Daniel,
there's a blog on also post the same Pictures and it's just taken nest to the pangkalan feri and the road leading to Hua Ee road..there are about 5-6 house like that along the road lead to Bintangor..

Tuan Lokong said...

Lidasar, hi...

I have something, then it was mentioned earlier in one of our discussion before. Though I must admit Penghulu Iman was quite closed to my wife side. Then it is difficult for me to say so. As you know as time goes less and less relatives comes together due to life commitment we tend not to meet and perhap almost forgotten altogether.
Anyway when I am back in Sare' I could fish out more closed up story about Penghulu Iman.

There was another Penghulu Emban in Sekuau, he died being killed by Communists at that time, way back 1968/69. We stayed at 26th Miles Oya Road during this time and is only 2 miles from Sekuau.

I have with me now the story of Sare' how it begin and who were there at that time.

Kanga said...

Tuan Lokong,

Love to hear your story of Sare. I don't quite know where this place is but as a young boy I kept hearing about this place from my Cantonese friends.

willchua said...

Attention to anyone who know Mr. Ling Ging Geng, former teacher of St. Anthony Sarikei. He is going to undergo surgery at Singapore.

Please pray for safe surgery and fast recovery.

lidasar said...

I suppose Penghulu Emban is the successor of Penghulu Iman. I am eager to hear from Tuan Lokong on the beginning of Sare. If I may add one of the prominent Cantonese was Chan Lok and could be one of the earliest family that came to Sarikei as the family was based in Sare. Chan Lok has a total of 16 children and probably hundred over grandchildren and you could imagine how impossible to miss talking about his family if you mention Sare. He started one of successful Cantonese shop in early Sarikei but didn't last the test of time.

NELSON said...

swiftlet ranching is very common here in Kuala Terengganu too.

Tuan Lokong said...

I remembered 27 years ago there were only footpath from Sare' to Sarikei. The road is walking all the way from behind Jakar bazaar all the way to our Long house was THREE hours phew, I only manage to carry 3 gantang of Rice and maybe some biscuits.

The only better way is via Motor-Pom. This motor launch there were two og them one belong to "Aki" as called by Ibans and the others I forgotten. They would only comes when the tide is right. So when in the boat we will lay on any thing to sleep such as on top of Dried Rubber, Pepper sack or even padi at times...

So sometime, we have to row boat down the Sungai Enseluai and waited at the mouth on Sare' River. Overnight and remembered we have to hang a sarong for my Son to sleep on the Kayu Bakau branches.

Later go along the banks at night catching Crabs.... Oh Boy those were the days... :)

Daniel Yiek said...

These 2 buildings are different buildings but both are swiftlet ranching houses.

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