On September 13, local concern groups met with the government to discuss the recent proposal by members of the Mui Wo Rural Committee to relocate the 25 or so cows, that live in Mui Wo, to the Soko Islands, several miles off the south coast of Lantau.
Taking the lead on this issue, the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) confirmed that it has conducted a preliminary feasibility study but has not yet responded formally to the proposal. The AFCD is about to complete a desexing programme intended to stabilise the herd at its current size. The debate therefore centres around safeguarding the cattle’s welfare in the coming years.
Representatives from Living Islands Movement (LIM), Lantau Buffalo Association (LBA), Where Have All The Cattle Gone (WHATCG), Tai O Community Cattle Group, Protection of Animals Lantau South (PALS) and several local residents took part in a lively discussion at Mui Wo Leisure Centre. No representatives from the Mui Wo Rural Committee were present. The meeting was joined, however, by ‘King of Votes’ Eddie Chu, who was recently elected to LegCo with over 80,000 votes. Eddie is a keen advocate of conservation ideals and like all groups at the meeting rejects the idea of the cows being relocated off Lantau.
There are two main schools of thought on how to move forward. In order to proactively manage the herd in-situ in Mui Wo, the LBA is sponsoring an initiative to set up a cattle shelter in Luk Tei Tong. WHATCG, on the other hand, wants to encourage the herd to return to its traditional pattern of transmigrating into the surrounding hills during the summer months. Here, they would be out of harm’s way during the rainy season and, crucially, not moving around in Mui Wo’s urban area.
The AFCD agreed to give these proposals further thought and a small working group has now been set up to evaluate the merits of each case. To find out more, visit www.livingislands.org.hk.
Image: Martin Lerigo