Flowers and fury for cattle killed on roads

Memorial on Lantau for the eight victims of last year's hit and run calls for speed cameras, amid claims 17 cattle killed by motorists this year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 4:06am

Flowers and incense yesterday marked the spot where eight feral cows were killed in a hit-and-run accident on Lantau a year earlier - with a steady stream of people dropping by the memorial to voice their anger at the government's failure to stop traffic endangering the island's wildlife.

So far this year, at least 17 more cattle have been killed on Lantau's roads, according to animal welfare campaigner Dina Yang.

Jacqui Green, from the Protection of Animals Lantau South, said: "If you choose to live on Lantau, you have to accept that there are snakes, cows and mosquitoes. If you want to live on Lantau, you learn to live with them."

She said speeding cars, buses and motorcycles were the biggest cause of death of the island's feral cattle, but the government had done nothing to solve the issue since the hit and run at the Upper Cheung Sha Beach section of South Lantau Road last June.

Green, whose organisation has been looking out for cattle in the area since 1998, added: "It's been a year and nothing has been done to curb the reckless speeding and terrible driving habits."

Sarah Wilson, a 49-year-old British quantity surveyor, was last month fined HK$5,000 for failing to give information to the police regarding who had been driving her car at the time of the accident after her car was found nearby with animal fur caught in the damaged bumper.

Her defence counsel claimed there was no evidence the car was involved in the accident or was even on the road at the time.

Li, a van driver who stopped at the memorial to sign a petition calling for better traffic controls, said that if he were to drive at the 70km/h speed limit, he would infuriate other motorists and be honked at and overtaken, even by buses. Li said speeds of up to 100km/h along that stretch were common.

"I don't think the cattle should be removed because if we follow the rules of the road and refrain from speeding, we won't hit the cows," he added.

Following the accident, the government transported 21 of Lantau's feral cows to Sai Kung, but also transported 29 Sai Kung cows to Lantau. The idea was that the rehomed cows - descendents of cows and buffaloes once raised by dairy farmers or used to pull ploughs - would not wander into urban areas.

Green said: "I disagree with the government saying the cows are a nuisance and a disruption to traffic.

"We are not the only inhabitants here. This is where they belong, where they came from."

Yang, of the Tai O Community Cattle Group, said: "Do you think that removing the cows would reduce the speeding? No."

Both animal welfare groups, which organised the memorial, called for speed cameras to be installed and more police patrols.

A Transport Department spokeswoman said a study at the site of the hit-and-run accident had already shown that the section of road failed to meet the criteria for installing speed cameras.