Birds banned to preserve Malaysian buildings

Tens of thousands of birds cultivated for their edible nests are being banned from the capital of a Malaysian tourist island after the UN cultural agency warned that the business endangered efforts to preserve historical buildings.

The bird breeders on Penang island voiced fears that the ban would disrupt their business, which existed for years before Unesco placed Penang's capital, George Town, on its list of World Heritage Sites in 2008.

Nests made from the swiftlets' saliva are sold across Asia as a delicacy and can fetch up to £1,250 a kilo.