The owner of a 20-hectare mango plantation in central Thailand has been forced to her farm because it has been taken over by openbill storks. Millions of openbill storks have raided her 200 rai mango farm.
The owner 43-year-old Ms. Kannikar Supradit told Thai media that, for the past three years, she has been fighting with the storks to no avail. She said the birds now occupy almost every mango tree on the plantation. Furthermore, they have damaged the fruit, causing her about half a million baht in lost revenue annually.
Since the monsoon flooding began in October, she told reporters that the birds have now taken to roosting on the roof of her house. She said their droppings emit a foul odor, making living in the house almost intolerable.
About three years ago, Ms. Kannikar said she took her problem to officials of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, who recommended that she fell all her mango trees, thus denying the storks a roost.
She said she did cut down some dying mango trees, but the birds didn’t go away and kept multiplying. She said she has given up hope of saving her mango plantation and wants to sell the land to anyone interested.
Dr. Kaset Sutacha, a veterinarian and president of the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, explained that openbill storks used to be migratory birds, but have now become a permanent fixture in most parts of Thailand. Above all because the rice fields, there are rich with snails, making perfect feeding.
He said Thai rice farmers love the birds because they help get rid of the snails, which threaten rice fields. However, fruit farmers do not like them because their droppings are acidic and, in sufficient quantities, kill the trees.
Since the openbill stork is a protected species in Thailand, their only means to get rid of them is to chase them away.
Hunting, trading, or exporting a stork can result in imprisonment of four years and/or 40,000 baht fine.
He said that some orchard owners hang used CDs on tree branches, hoping that the reflected sunlight will disturb the birds. Meanwhile, others have resorted to spotlights or water jets from powerful sprinklers to disturb their sleep, until they get fed up and fly away.