Feral cattle go camera shy

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 August, 2007, 12:00am

An environmental campaigner has shelved plans to publish a calendar of Lantau's feral buffalo and cattle - after too few animals were willing to pose for the camera.

Members of the Living Islands Movement were invited to submit photos of their favourite bovines grazing at Lantau beauty spots for the calendar, being prepared by retired civil servant Clive Noffke to promote appreciation and concern for the declining herds.

Although he received lots of photos of buffalo, few showed good scenery or feral cattle.

Concern for Lantau's buffalo and cattle was triggered in April when 16 animals died en route to the government's animal management centre in Sheung Shui after they were rounded up following complaints from villagers.

The group estimates the number of cattle and buffalo on Lantau at between 75 and 100 for each species, based on a survey that had counted 72 cattle and 46 buffalo.

But Mr Noffke, who at his own cost recently published a leaflet on feral cattle that was circulated to 20 schools, said recent hot weather - not a lack of animals to photograph - had scuppered his plans for a non-profit calendar.

'I sent out the request for photos at the end of June. About 10 people wrote back and sent at least two pictures each but they were all buffalo, and with very few exceptions, they did not include scenery,' he said.

Mr Noffke said he was particularly keen to include cattle because there was less public awareness of their plight. He had been out in recent weeks to try to photograph them in noted beauty spots but had been unable to get enough good shots in time to meet the production and printing schedule for the calendar.

'Although it has been wonderful weather, it's not very good for taking photos of cattle because they shelter under the trees and shrubs,' he said. 'They are not standing in front of Lantau Peak or a beach or stream.

'I would need to have the calendars ready by the end of September because people will be sending their Christmas gifts by sea mail in October as it takes about two months to get to Europe. I have decided it's now too late for this year.'

Mr Noffke said he had high hopes of getting the cattle 'to come out and pose for the camera' next year.