Name the hedge trimmer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 August, 2009, 12:00am

Acompetition will be held to come up with a name for the second Asian water buffalo at the Mai Po Nature Reserve. Green group WWF will accept submissions for their newest grass trimmer until August 24.

The six-year-old male entered the reserve on July 29. He joined Siu Mai, the park's resident water buffalo, a female from Sheung Shui which moved to the marshes in 2006.

The buffalo were introduced to attract more water birds to Hong Kong's largest haven for migratory birds. They can save the park some HK$40,000 a year in maintenance costs.

Common weed grass at the wetland can reach as tall as 2 metres, a height which keeps birds away.

Managers at the reserve had to cut the grass on a weekly basis. But the buffalo eat the grass, reducing managing costs and workloads.

'Most birds like the grass to be short,' says Bena Smith, a researcher with WWF, which manages the nature reserve.

'For example, ducks like grasses to be shorter than them so they can watch out for predators overhead. For herons, short grass allows them to fish in the pond.'

Insects which live on the hides of buffalo are a food source for birds, adds Mr Smith, attracting even more birds to the area.

Researchers hope a second buffalo will keep the grass shorter longer, thus increasing the chances of attracting more birds. They are particularly keen to attract two species with speedily declining numbers, the Greater Painted Snipe and Grey Headed Lapwing.

For a chance to give the male buffalo its name, visit - the winner will also get a chance to visit the reserve with three friends and see the buffalo.