A Kalihi man recounts the difficulty in getting the species to Hawaii
By Robert Shikina
These are no ordinary chickens.
Kalihi resident Khammone Sundara, 35, was so upset when someone stole 13 of his aseel roosters from a friend's Waimanalo farm two weeks ago that he is offering a $1,000 reward to get them back. Fifteen of the birds were left behind.
"These are Oriental roosters, (like) giant turkeys," he said. "These are not your average fighting chickens."
Sundara said he is the only breeder of purebred aseel roosters in Hawaii and has a passion for the birds.
They were passed down to him from his father, a Laotian farmer who smuggled the species in to Hawaii in 1982. He recalled his father carried a dozen of the eggs on a boat from Laos to Thailand and then on a plane to Honolulu, where U.S. Customs seized six of the eggs.
With the remaining eggs, the family bred the birds for food and fighting.
Because of their large size, the roosters are used in Thailand for tape boxing, a type of chicken fighting that does not use gaffs, Sundara said. Fighting matches test endurance and do not kill the birds, he said. But since Louisiana, the last state where chicken fighting was legal, banned the practice this year, he does not sell the roosters for fighting anymore.
The roosters can be used as show birds and are tasty when only about 5 months old, he said. He can sell roosters for about $1,000 to $2,500 each, with hens going for twice as much.
Sundara suspects the thieves were a group of teenagers that were riding on dirt bikes near the farm about two weeks ago.
"It's kind of a sad feeling," he said. "I want my birds back."
Sundara posted six signs in Waimanalo three days ago, but they were taken down, probably by the thieves, who did not want to be caught, he said.
Then he bought a $20 wooden door, wrote his reward message on it and tied it to the side of the road near the intersection of Pali and Kamehameha highways.
Working the local bird network, he believes his birds are still somewhere in Waimanalo.
"Somebody's going to know something about it in Waimanalo," he said.
Yesterday he received about 30 calls because of the sign. One caller from Kailua reported a rooster with a gaff tied to it running around for three days. Sundara said he would check on it today.
He did not report the theft to police because they would need identification tags, which he did not have.
It is not the first time Sundara has posted a reward after his birds were stolen. In the past he offered a $5,000 reward for two birds and got them back the next day. The person who offered the tip did not want the money, he said.
"It's just a matter of time," he said. "I'm going to get the birds. They're my property, my pets and my livelihood. I mean business."
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