Save the buffaloes, save the island
- Written by Melanie Potgieter, 21 March 2016
Local resident Jean Hui is the "buffalo whisperer" on Lantau.
She knows the buffaloes by name, which calf belongs to who, and who there sisters and brothers are. She makes sure that they are tended to when they are injured. They know her voice and when they hear her, will lift their heads and come out to greet her.
Every night, especially on cold days, you will see her little jeep parked on the side of the road as she tends to the animals and feeds them left over fruit and chopped up banana leaves.
Due to the destruction of the wetlands by waste product disposal, as well as the development of villages, especially Ham Tin and Shap Long in South Lantau, there is much less grazing for the water buffalo that roam freely around the island. Usually it is tough for the buffalo during the winter season, but the situation is becoming more and more dire. The buffalo were hardly seen on the road, except for when they would cross and then vanish into the vegetation. These days, you will often see them with little calves feeding along the busy roads of South Lantau.
After the very cold spell this winter, the vegetation has been slower to regrow. The buffalo have grown thin and hungry. Jean has been trying to help the buffalo find more grazing, by cutting down trees branches that are out of reach for them, but there just was not enough.
Jean approached me to help her purchase a load of 24 bales of hay from the Tuen Mun riding school, which we did. It was the most amazing thing to watch: as soon as the buffalo picked up the scent of the grass in the air, they came running -- a bit of an intimidating sight when you are the one holding the hay.
SEE VIDEO BELOW
I reached out to the South Lantau community to come to the aid of the buffalo. We raised HK$10,000 from donations, which was enough for a further 3 loads of hay. The Lantau Beer Dash has sponsored another 2 loads of hay to tide the buffalos over until the wet season.
The upside of feeding the water buffalo during this winter period is that there was not so much destruction of the local farmers' crops, with buffaloes jumping or damaging fences to get to them. The farmers are happy for this, and thank the community.
A letter from Living Islands Movement
Friends of Lantau Island,
The tranquillity and beauty of Lantau Island is being threatened with excessive and ugly commercialisation and over-development by the Government.
If you care about Lantau Island, we hope you can raise your voice to let the Government know that they have to do more to protect and preserve the ecology and environment of Lantau, the “green lung of Hong Kong”.
The Government is determined to encourage large scale developments and ridiculous commercialised projects that will destroy the very essence of the Island.
Development is already well advanced on North Lantau, with the various bridges and land reclamation projects “improving” communications with Macau and Zhuhai, as well as to Tuen Mun and Gold Coast. HK’s Waste Handling infrastructure is being expanded on North Lantau via the Organic Waste Treatment Facility which is being built close to the Discovery Bay access road.
There will be more development in the coming years if the third runway is approved, but what about the promised Marine Park South of Lantau Island?
On South Lantau, the main issues featuring in LIM campaigns are:
- Destruction of Lantau’s wetlands, the natural habitat of the Lantau Water Buffaloes, has been going on by stealth for a number of years, with the Government via EPD giving tacit approval.
- The Transport Department have relaxed the closed road permits for access to South Lantau.
- The so called, “East Lantau Metropolis”, connecting Lantau to artificial islands and eventually to Hong Kong Island.
- The Incinerator, to be sited offshore from South Lantau at Shek Kwu Chau.
If you care about Lantau Island, these are some of the things that you can do to help:
- Like us on Facebook
- Write to the newspapers to draw public attention to Lantau issues
- Share your opinions about Lantau Island with your friends & colleagues
- Raise awareness with any LegCo legislators, Senior Civil Servants and Business Leaders you know, to make them aware of the irreparable damage that is being proposed for Lantau Island
- Keep up-to-date by visiting the LIM website for information about the crazy and destructive plans, and
- Take action to let the Government know that sustainable tourism doesn’t have to involve destruction of the environment
Living Islands Movement is a non-affiliated, local group made up entirely of volunteers with a focus on Lantau Island. LIM stands for sustainable Islands development and the preservation of the environment. All money raised through donations and membership fees goes directly into funding campaigns.