Meeting to work out solution Mui Wo stray cattle problem
Officials to sit down with those on opposite sides of argument over Lantau animals to work out solution
An end could be in sight to the long-running battle over the fate of a band of roaming cattle on Lantau.
Officials at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department - often caught in the middle of a fight between those on different sides of the argument over the fate of 14 wild cows and three buffalo - have called a meeting later this week of all those concerned to thrash out a solution.
Many residents of Mui Wo, where the animals make their home, consider the beasts to be a special part of the community as they walk lazily around. But there has also been growing concern about the animals from local community leaders.
The risk of vehicles hitting the wandering beasts and trails of excrement the animals leave behind are the main concerns.
Now, officials will sit down with all the concerned parties on Friday at the Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices.
"We have arranged a working group meeting to consider and discuss the possible options to handle the stray cattle situation in Mui Wo on August 24," a department spokeswoman said.
"Representatives from various non-government organisations, Mui Wo Rural Committee and Islands District Council have been invited to attend the meeting. We will listen to their views and suggestions, with a view to working out mutually agreeable arrangements."
The majority of people in Mui Wo seem happy for the cattle to stay. However, some villagers consider them a nuisance.
Long-term Mui Wo resident Lynne Charleston explained that the wild cattle are considered a nuisance as they live on land owned by Mui Wo developers - the new owners of land permits granted to absent indigenous villagers to build village house - who are anxious to raze the buildings so that new ones can be built.
Charleston added that there had been meetings on the issue for years, but they had never been open to the public and public opinion was never sought.
Another resident, Julie Nunn, said that a petition had been signed by 60 villagers stating that they were against any attempt to remove the cattle. She also believed that a full-time herder could solve the problem.