By Ridmi Milindika – Norwood Correspondent
A massive racket has been bared where some unscrupulous elements are breaking the nests of a protected bird named Edible Nest Swift (Thurithaya- Collocalia Unicolour) living in the three mile stretch of the tunnel of the Hatton-Singimale railway line where they are sold for soup in five-star hotels here and overseas.
The racket has been bared by both railway employees and residents of the area who walk along the tunnel of the railway line.
Residents of the area allege that the bird itself is protected under Clause 31 of the Flora and Fauna Protection Ordinance and the breaking of their nests and endangering them and the selling of eggs or exhibiting them has been prohibited. They also allege that the nests have been made out of the saliva of the bird which fortifies them. The soup is considered as a delicacy among tourists who visit five-star hotels.
Residents say a large number of nests have been broken and young birds have died. This happens usually after 10 p.m.when there are no movements of trains. Railway employees say they fear threats to their life if they attempt to stop the racket.
Environmentalists point out that the bird is a predator on various insects that destroy paddy fields. The services of the protected bird are invaluable in the protection of paddy crops.