AFCD failing distressed animals
Alex Lo's concerns regarding the callousness of the Agriculture Fisheries and Conservation Department staff is warranted (Animals need care, not bureaucracy, April 10).
Some years ago, after extreme rainstorms in Sai Kung, I found that a number of red-eared slider turtles had been washed through the drainage system into Sai Kung harbour. Using a large net, I recovered the creatures from the water and, whilst I recognised that they are an invasive species and not endangered, I felt that the best option was to deliver them to AFCD staff at the Lion's Nature Education Centre in Sai Kung.
On handing the creatures over to the AFCD staff, with an explanation as to where they had come from, it was disconcerting to witness the facial expressions and body language of these people. They appeared bemused that I would even be concerned with the animals' welfare and gave me the distinct impression that I was causing them extreme inconvenience by assuming they should take responsibility for distressed wildlife. I left with an uncomfortable feeling.
Recently, a friend informed me that his wife and daughter had found a baby owl on the road, which they had rescued and taken home. He asked if I knew whom to call to collect the bird or to whom his wife could take it. I recommended the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (due to my negative experience with the AFCD) but, by the time my recommendation had been passed on, the AFCD had already been called.
I learned that an AFCD crew turned up carrying a large pole with a loop on the end as well as gloves and other accessories with which to wrestle the 12 cm high creature into a cage. It took a while to convince them that such defensive measures were unnecessary but eventually the bird was unceremoniously taken away without a hint as to its fate.
It seems incongruous that this department's title should include the word "conservation".
Mark Ranson, Sai Kung