sign in a cave in Laos

24 September 2021

Cave swiftlets found dead in Phattalung caves

 An article in The Thaiger 22 Sept 2021 "5 billion baht loss as birds’ nest producing swiftlets found dead".

Apparently over 1 million birds have been found dead, in 107 caves in Phattalung's 7 islands.

The article says :

"Phatthalung authorities have requested help from the Department of Special Investigation to investigate the death of birds. These were no ordinary birds though; they were swiftlets, the birds that produce the saliva that make birds’ nest, prized as a health delicacy. And it wasn’t a few birds, it was over a million birds found dead in caves where Siamnest company has the authority to collect their birds’ nest.

And the financial loss of these birds and the birds’ nests they produce has been estimated at about 5 billion baht.

The company has permission to access 107 caves in Phatthalung’s seven islands and they sent their collection teams to gather the birds’ nest between September 9 to September 17. When they arrived to the last cave, they discovered the remains of more than 1 million birds instead of the nests they were tasked with collecting.

The team found the remains of a fire and various trash strewn about including shoes and plastic bottles. After Siamnest involved the Phatthalung authorities, the Royal Thai Police joined the investigation of the mass death of the swiftlet birds.

Unlike most birds that make nests out of twigs or similar materials, swiftlets make theirs completely out of their unique saliva which solidifies to form the nest. These saliva nests are considered a delicacy, especially in Asian regions, for it’s believed healing powers. Birds’ nest soup is often made by steaming and soaking the saliva nests.

The nests are said to help with kidney health, phlegm reduction and are desired as an aphrodisiac as well. Harvesting companies have become big businesses due to the high price the unique birds’ nest can fetch, with companies like Siamnest getting exclusive access to areas the swiftlets nest or even creating artificial sanctuaries for swiftlets to nest.

Of note, disgraced police officer Pol Col Thitisan “Jo Ferrari” Utthanaphon, whose shocking wealth was revealed upon his arrest for suffocating a suspect in custody, was said to have made part of his fortune by trading birds’ nest.


The source of the above Thaiger article is The Nation , which has lots of photos:

Horrifying Phatthalung bird massacre costs Siamnest THB5-bn in lost revenue

A Royal Thai Police (RTP) team visited Phatthalung province on Monday to investigate the case of missing birds’ nests and the mass killing of swiftlets.

Siamnest company, which has the concession for collecting bird’s nests from the 107 caves in Phatthalung’s seven islands, sent its teams off to collect nests from September 9 to 17.

However, when the collectors arrived at the last cave, they found no nests but instead, the carcasses of more than a million birds, the remains of a fire and trash including plastic bottles and shoes.

The damage from this bird massacre has been estimated at about 5 billion baht.

Phatthalung authorities, meanwhile, have contacted the Department of Special Investigation to see if they will consider taking on the case.


I've been to several caves in Phattalung province mainland, but not islands -  see labels on the right.

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