Remnants of an agrarian past, the feral cattle and water buffalo of Lantau are now considered an integral part of the island’s fauna. As such, the Tai O Community Cattle Group (TOCCG) have been raising awareness of how to better interact and care for the feral cattle on Lantau island, and are now raising funds to do just that.
Feral cows on Lantau are often found roaming around in Ngong Ping, and it’s common to see tourists and visitors feeding them human food – something which TOCCG says needs to stop.
“Due to the shortage of signage and lack of public education on the issue, the cows are subjected to constant stress and unsuitable food by tourists on a daily basis,” says Kathy Daxon, chairwoman on TOCCG. According to her, the cows are being fed “food such as raw corn, apples – which are swallowed whole – and sweet potatoes, as well as tourist snacks such as cake, bread, chips, candy, ice cream.”
This kind of feeding can have dire consequences. Not only are such foods inappropriate, but the act of feeding the cows can overturn their natural grazing instincts. This was the case with Billy the Cow, who was found dead with over two full rubbish bins worth of plastic in his digestive tract. He developed a habit of eating the bags due to his associating them with food, which was a direct result of humans feeding him food that came out of plastic bags.
Since late 2017, TOCCG has been working with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to distribute leaflets advising against the feeding of the cows, and the group is now raising funds to produce 100 fluorescent ‘Road Safety & No Feeding Bilingual Cow Collars’ for Lantau’s feral cattle.
The collars are fitted on the feral cattle in Ngong Ping, Tai O, Shek Pik, Shui Hau, Tong Fuk and Cheung Sha.The current fundraising campaign is to cover the costs of new collars and to also replace worn collars as some cows rub them on trees or are worn from weather exposure.
“We hope that with your contributions we can continue to keep the cows more visible as they travel the road at night and stop them from being fed,” says Milea Lee, TOCCG secretary. “We have less than 10 collars left right now so we need your help!”
Each collar costs around HK$150 to make, and the proceeds from TOCCG’s fundraising campaign on GoGetFunding site will be used to cover the production costs of creating fluorescent road safety and ‘no feeding’ collars, as well covering the costs for printing public educational materials, such as banners and posters, to help make the public aware about the dangers of feeding feral cattle human food.
TOCCG has been working on feral cattle welfare since 2014 and the group regularly corresponds with local authorities to improve the community relationship with Lantau’s feral cattle. In addition to the daily monitoring of the health and safety of the feral cattle, TOCCG also manages a hotline for reporting road accidents that involve feral cattle.
You can visit the TOCCG fundraising page here.
Tai O Community Cattle Group