Lantau buffalo and cattle – common sense prevails

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 October, 2013, 3:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 2:06pm

Well done, the Lands Department. For once, common sense has prevailed.

The story is this: a music event will take place on Silvermine Bay (MuiWO) beach  this weekend. The three remaining local buffalo and 17 feral cattle coming in contact with crowds of townie visitors has proved disastrous in the past.  Three buffaloes were killed by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officials (AFCD) a few years back, after one unfortunate beast was spooked into a tight space and charged to break free, slightly injuring a tourist. So three buffalo were killed, just to be sure.  The bovines live there- it is their home. No one ever suggests telling the visitors to back off and behave respectfully around the four-legged residents .

Anyway, the kit for this musical weekend has been plonked where the Mui Wo cattle herd likes to sleep. Result: confused, unsettled cattle, milling around the car park and middle of the road, because they can’t get to their normal overnight spot. Cattle are creatures of habit. This is happening even before the hordes arrive and panic them still further.

Adjacent to this area is a piece of fenced government land, with a locked gate. So the Lantau Buffalo Association asked the Lands Department to open the gate to this area, so that the cattle can be safely kept inside during the music and disturbance. And, today, just in time, the Lands Department said yes. So here’s hoping for an incident -free weekend with no blameless bovines needing to be shot on Monday because a human upset them.

Pui O problems

Unfortunately the Cattle – human interface on Lantau is tricky and getting more so. Billy is a very friendly young bullock in Pui O who loves people. He was orphaned and hand-reared, which has made him very confident with humans. So much so that tourists feed him by hand. Cheeky Billy is now taking things a step further and is prone to approaching people down at the Pui O camp site , asking for food.  He loves human food, which could kill him. The other day he was even rummaging through someone’s bag, and was saved in the nick of time from scoffing a plastic bag of sweets, wrapping and all. Visitors are reminded, please don’t feed Billy or get too close to any of the cattle or buffalo.  Friendly though they are, they are not pets.

Cheng Sha cattle massacre

Which reminds me. Back in June, horrific pictures appeared in the newspapers of eight Lantau cattle, mown down and killed by a speeding vehicle. At the time Lantau residents were incensed and demanded action to catch the culprit, or culprits. Police questioned a local resident, but since then there’s been no news of a court case. Meanwhile a motorcyclist has died on that stretch of road and cattle continue to get hit. Update on the Cheung Sha cattle murders coming soon.