Villagers at Sha Lo Wan on north Lantau have erected a 2.5m iron gate to keep out visitors, closing one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking trails.
The village closed the gate last Friday during the long holiday weekend, leading to heated scenes as hikers and runners tried to pass.
Two people who tried to skirt around the gate became lost in the nearby hills, sparking a rescue operation by the fire department.
HK01 reported that the gate was locked with iron chains and protected by barbed wire and tree branches. Around a dozen villagers stood guard.
A sign outside the village states it is a “private area.” Any person who enters “will be treated as a thief and will be reported to the police.”
Police said they had received a complaint from villagers on Friday morning after a heated dispute broke out with hikers who they accused of trespassing, HK01 said.
The hikers departed after police arrived, but were dissatisfied that the police could not explain whether the closure was legal or not.
One visitor, Ms Wong, told Apple Daily that villagers had threatened to beat her if she entered the village. She described them as “selfish and unreasonable” and questioned how they could forcibly occupy a public road.
Late on Friday afternoon two hikers decided to climb into the hills to get around the locked gate became lost.
The villagers refused to open the gate for firefighters, who were forced to use a ladder get into the village. The rescuers located the lost couple near Sha Lo Wan and evacuated them by boat from the San Shek Wan pier.
In response to reporters’ queries, the Lands Department said it would “follow up” the incident.
Police and customs officers seized a small boat and smuggled goods worth HK$600,000 in an operation off Sha Lo Wan yesterday.
In a joint operation they spotted a speedboat approaching Tung Chung River, Metro Radio reports.
Onshore five men were unloading goods from a private car for the speedboat.
As the boat departed, Marine Police gave chase,. forcing the occupant to abandon the craft in Sha Lo Wan and flee on foot.
Officers found 32 boxes aboard the boat containing ivory products, cough syrup and other products.
No arrests were made.
The discovery of a tropical butterfly on North Lantau last month is a sign that ecological zones are shifting as a result of global warming, according to the Environmental Association.
“It is normally found in areas deep within tropical regions like India and Indonesia,” Environmental Association chief secretary, Dr Yau Wing-kwong, wrote in a letter to the South China Morning Post.
But it is not a one-off.
Another tropical butterfly, the Prosotas nora, was first seen in Hong Kong in November 2015 and has now made the city a permanent home, Yau said, noting that it is now enjoying “a baby boom.”
He pointed out that climate studies have shown that for every degree of global warming, the isotherm, or line of average temperature, will move by more than 160km.
This discovery sends a strong signal, indicating that global warming is moving ecological species northwards, as isotherms … simultaneously move north.
Although much climate change evidence is derived from complex mathematical models and data, it is beginning to affect the ecological world on a much wider, quicker and bigger scale than ever before. This is a clear, strong message and warning that we all act together to combat global warming and climate change, before it is too late and irreversible.
The Environment Association is a privately-funded conservation promotion and education foundation.
Photo (top): Wikimedia