Tagged: Ham Tin

Buffalo wars: Yu demands answers, conservationists demand protections

The future of Lantau’s cattle and buffalo populations is once again in dispute after an elderly woman was injured in a buffalo incident in Ham Tin.

Lantau district councillor Randy Yu has seized on the event to demand AFCD officials attend today’s Islands District Council meeting to answer questions and “ensure the safety of citizens’ lives.”

But there is disagreement even on the basic facts of the incident, including the date.

According to Yu’s account an 82-year-old woman, Ms Chen, and her un-named helper were knocked over by a male buffalo in the early hours of September 26.

Chen had more than ten stitches stitched on her wound and suffered physical and mental injuries and still had lingering palpitations.

“Since the accident, residents have been very worried about the safety of children and the elderly when they enter and exit the village,” Yu said.

However, conservationists argue that the AFCD’s neglect of Lantau buffalo and cattle herds endangers people and animals and could lead to their extinction.

“It is of vital importance that both citizens and community buffalos and cattle can coexist in safety and security,” Jean Leung, Pui O’s well-known buffalo carer, said in a statement.

“In order for Lantau to develop sustainably, we urge the government to have a clear policy in relation to the protection of buffalos and cattle in the community.”

Leung said Chen was not attacked but in fact she and her helper had fallen over trying to avoid a young male called Bulging Eyes who was “chasing off cows that had come into his territory.”

She said the incident took place on September 4, not September 26 as Yu claims. 

Leung says she immediately advised the AFCD and the next day Bulging Eyes was captured and relocated to the New Territory buffalo centre.

Leung pointed to the deaths of a female cow and her calf on South Lantau Road three weeks as another sign of the increasingly risky environment for local bovines.

But she said “senior AFCD officials do not seem to understand or even care about the habits of the cattle and water buffalos, neither do they respect the opinions of residents who know the herds well, directly disrupting the lives of the water buffalos and cattle.”

In recent years the AFCD neutering programme had resulted in 99% of the buffalo females being neutered and the castration of many male buffalo, causing clashes within and between herds.

“If this continues, it is not inconceivable that the cattle and water buffalos will disappear from this area completely. This will be a form of extinction.”

She also called on the government to close loopholes in regulations on the protection of coastal territories and strengthen enforcement of the laws intended to protect wetlands.

Leung and others took part in a protest in Central ahead of the district council meeting this morning.

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Elderly woman injured by charging buffalo in Ham Tin

An 82-year-old woman required stitches after being charged by an undesexed buffalo last week, sparking another discussion about buffalo and land management.

The woman, surnamed Wan, was out with her helper near old Ham Tin village at 7am last Saturday when she was struck by the buffalo, “running as fast a horse,” Oriental Daily reported.

She required six stitches in her head and three stitches in each of her hands.

The woman’s son said that whenever he went out he would keep his distance from the buffalo. Other villagers also felt alarmed. Some had complained to the AFCD that the buffalo had destroyed their vegetables and crops.

Jean Leung, the Pui O buffalo carer, said the male buffalo, which she named Bulging Eyes, came from Mung Tung Wan a few months ago.

She had advised the AFCD vets to take him to be desexed “because he was always fighting” with other buffalo, but it was difficult to arrange because he kept moving from place to place.

Bulging Eyes (Photo: Jean Leung)

He has since been captured by AFCD and desexed, she said.

Eddie Tse from the Save Lantau Alliance, told Oriental Daily the increased conflict between humans and bovines was related to land development.

An increasing amount of buffalo habitat in Pui O in being fenced off, while some private landowners have taken advantage of a law that allows them to dump trash on their own plots with government approval.

He said some conservation groups had called for the creation of special ecological zones for buffalo. They had forwarded proposals to the government but so far had had no response.

Carrie Lam vowed to protect the Pui O wetlands, Hong Kong’s last remaining buffalo habitat, when she took office in 2017.

She set up a new unit in CEDD called the Sustainable Lantau Office but it has taken no action to prevent the continued shrinkage and is yet to come up with a long-term plan to ensure the wetlands’ survival.

Photo (top): File photo

Ukranian refugee arrested over Ham Tin break-in

A 21-year-old Ukranian has been arrested over a break-in in Ham Tin in October.

The man, who has sought asylum in Hong Kong, was arrested last week on Pui O Beach, where he had been in living in a tent.

Police say he smashed a window to break into a Ham Tin home between October 4-9 last year.

The house was unoccupied and no property was stolen, police said.

Police located the man with the help of local residents.

He has been charged with burglary and remanded in custody.

Five Lantau beaches added to priority cleanup list

Five more South Lantau beaches to the government’s priority foreshore cleaning roster.

From now on Cheung Sha, Tong Fuk, Shap Long, Ham Tin and Tai Long Wan are among 29 beaches that will be serviced by Marine Department cleaners.

Pui O, Fan Lau and Tai O on Lantau’s south and western coast, and Sam Pak Wan and Nim Shue Wan near Discovery Bay, were already on the list.

The Environmental Protection Department updated the list of coastal sites based on “factors including cleanliness, the amount of refuse collected, cleaning frequency, geographical and hydrodynamic conditions, public accessibility, ecological value and concerns raised by the public,” a government statement said.

A dozen beaches were dropped list because of “sustained improvements in their cleanliness,” the statement said.

South Lantau residents organised multiple beach cleanup operations last year after two typhoons and a palm oil spill.

Cleanup operations on the priority beaches have increased 50% since the list was created two years ago, the government says.

It says Hong Kong is now working with 13 cities in the Pearl River catchment to monitor real-time rainfall data to help predict which beaches might be hit with heavy volumes of marine rubbish.

A notification system has been activated seven times.

The Marine Department’s contractor has been operating 80 scavenging vessels to clean up floating refuse in Hong Kong waters since October.

The contractor’s fleet includes six new quick response workboats and two scavenging catamarans equipped with mechanical devices to increase the efficiency of clean-up operation in narrow water channels and to enhance scavenging service in offshore waters. In addition, the number of foreshore cleaning teams has been increased from two to three in order to step up efforts in cleaning up the foreshore areas.

Fast broadband is arriving, slowly

High-speed internet via fibre connections to the home is on its way to South Lantau – but not from PCCW.

Local firm Top Express, which specialises in building infrastructure such as telecom networks and electricity grids, has invited residents of Mui Wo villages Tai Tei Tong, Luk Tei Tong and Pak Ngan Hang to register for the home broadband service. The company says it plans to cover all Mui Wo villages, with service to start as soon as May.

The broadband service will be delivered by Top Express partner HGC, part of the Hutchison Telecom Group, delivering bandwidth of 1 Gbps for both download and upload.

Elsewhere on Lantau, fast broadband has arrived at Ham Tin, but not with fibre. Residents now have access to 100Mbps downstream using vectoring technology over PCCW’s copper network.

Optical fibre is in place in Cheung Sha to service current residents and the new White Sands project, but has not yet been activated.

PCCW has developed an internal plan to build fibre networks to most households on the four outlying islands, but it has yet to be approved.  Lantau Confidential has reached out to PCCW for comment.

UPDATE: PCCW says the Ham Tin “speed upgrade project,” providing up to 100M/30M for download/upload, is a pilot program and it is considering further trials elsewhere. “The response from these pilot programs will provide some insight for our future planning,” the company said in an email.