A 48-year-old Chinese national had been arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) while trying to smuggle out edible bird nests valued at Rs.1.9mn this morning, Customs Spokesman Leslie Gamini said.
The suspect was carrying about 4.75 kilogrammes of the rare bird nests. He was detained at the Departure Lounge of the BIA en route to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou carrying edible nests, he said.
Edible bird nests are prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity and exquisite flavour. They are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans, with an average nest selling for about $2,500 per kilogramme in Asia.
“The stock of nests, with a retail value of Rs. 7.2 mn, was hidden in twelve cans of tea,” he said.
The cup-shaped collections of twigs are held together by dried Swiftlet saliva, which is made into a gelatinous soup credited in China with everything from alleviating asthma to arresting the ageing process.