Birds Banned from Malaysian city
Tens of thousands of birds – swiftlets, similar to sparrows – are being banned from the capital of a tourist island in Malaysia due to pressure from UNESCO, the United Nations cultural agency that puts tourist sites on protected lists. The cup-shaped nests made from swiftlets’ saliva are sold across Asia as a delicacy – they can fetch up to more than £1000 a kilogram. For this reason, many Malaysian entrepeneurs convert historical buildings in Georgetown, Penang Island, into small farms for the birds. However UNESCO has now claimed that this practice is threatening the historical architecture of the island, leading to the city government ordering all swiftlet farms in Georgetown to be moved to rural areas by 2013.