Melaka exco man warns against turning migratory birds into pets or dishes

MELAKA: Migratory birds are not meant to be pets or end up in aphrodisiac dishes, and the Melaka government will not tolerate attempts to capture them, says a state exco member.

Agriculture, agro-based, entrepreneur development and cooperative committee chairman Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee said the state government would do its best to protect these species even if they are not on the endangered list.

"We have to give importance to conserving the integrity of our ecosystems. Migratory birds should never be captured to be part of a menu," he said here on Thursday (April 8).

Norhizam said Melaka is currently witnessing an influx of Asian Openbill storks (Anastomus oscitans).

He said the stork, a large wader, emerges only in certain seasons and is rarely seen here.

"It is usually found in the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand, but birdwatchers have reported huge flocks in the last few years when the birds stop over during their migratory journey, especially at paddy fields in Melaka," he said.

Norhizam said the Asian Openbill uses the earth's magnetic field to navigate during migratory season and the wetlands here are a good spot along their route to forage for food.

He was commenting on concerns raised by Melaka Tourism Business Club vice-president Dennis Samford that some individuals had approached hoteliers offering exotic bird meat for hefty sums.

Samford said the meat was being promoted as an aphrodisiac, while some live birds were offered as pets.

Norhizam said he had never heard of people consuming Asian Openbill meat, however.

"It sounds repulsive to eat migratory birds to boost libido," he said.

Norhizam urged community leaders and village heads to stop anyone attempting to trap migratory birds.

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