A meeting aimed at ending the long-running battle over the fate of roaming cattle on Lantau looks to have been a success, with government officials saying they have no intention of killing or relocating the animals.
Officials of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department - often caught in the middle of a fight between opposing sides of the dispute over the fate of 14 wild cows and three buffalo - called a meeting on Friday morning to thrash out a solution.
Representatives from various non-government organisations, the Mui Wo Rural Committee and Islands District Council were invited to attend.
Many residents of Mui Wo, where the animals make their home, consider the beasts to be a special part of the community.
But community leaders have raised concerns, such as the risk of vehicles hitting the wandering beasts and the trails of excrement the animals leave behind.
"At the moment, we have no plan to relocate the cattle but will carry out [a] desexing operation to control their population," a spokeswoman for the agriculture department said. "We will also continue to work closely with other relevant departments to handle the complaints and nuisance caused by stray cattle."
The meeting was not open to the press, but Ho Loy, of the Lantau Buffalo Association, said that the meeting went well and that officials confirmed that no cattle would be harmed.
"The government made it clear that they do not want to kill or relocate the cattle, so this is good news," Ho said. "They also took on board the proposals that we put forward to take care of the cattle. We got a very positive reaction."
One of the proposals was for the government to employ a full-time herder. Ho believes that this is a serious option that can now be implemented.
Last week, long-time Mui Wo residents said the wild cattle were considered a nuisance as they lived on land owned by Mui Wo developers - the new owners of land permits granted to absent indigenous villagers so they can build village houses - who are anxious to clear the buildings for new developments.