Cattle shelters, not relocation

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In response to speculation about renewed attempts to resettle Lantau cattle, the LBA makes the following points:

  • The AFCD has advised that Tai A Chau (one of the Sokos islands) has been “suggested as a potential relocation site,” but no decision has been made. Another suggestion has been made to move cattle to mountain areas behind Mui Wo.
  • We are happy to address outstanding issues with the AFCD cattle team and other groups Continue reading
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Posted in Cattle

New South Lantau police chief: Road safety a priority

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Chief Insp Bennett (left), with LBA chairperson Ho Loy

LBA had a very positive meeting with the new Lantau South police chief, Chief Inspector David Neil Bennett, on June 17.

The main take-out is that Chief Insp, Bennett – who has a background in traffic policing and joins us directly from Lantau North traffic division – has made road safety a priority.

He says he’s committed to improving traffic policing on South Lantau Road, targeting speeding and other offences that have a direct impact on road safety. Police will have at their disposal advanced mobile and infra-red equipment that will enable them to detect and identify moving vehicles at any time of the day or night.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized

Billy’s story

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It’s taken us awhile, but here’s the wonderful story about Billy, the orphaned cow who runs with the buffalo herd.  He’s a lesson for all of us.

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged

Relocation: It’s all about development

IMG_3451 - CopyThe relocation of Lantau cattle isn’t about cattle. It’s about development.

This new banner in Pui O (ab0ve), calling for a massive upgrade of Lantau’s main roads, tells the story.

The rural committees who were the key backers of the scheme to forcibly remove the cattle are now effectively demanding the scrapping of the closed road scheme and calling for the island to be fully integrated into the SAR’s road network.

They’re not holding back. They’re asking for:

  • Mui Wo to Tai O road be upgraded to a public highway, with laybys and bus parking places;
  • A new highway cutting through country park from Mui Wo to North Lantau;
  • The go-ahead for the coastal highway from Tung Chung to Tai O;
  • More laybys on the Tung Chung Rd.

Such substantial claims would be impossible if cattle were still ‘disrupting’ traffic, as the AFCD puts it, and without the expectation that more relocations will strip Lantau villages of their cattle population.

Not only was the support of the rural committees essential for the AFCD relocation scheme to go ahead, it is highly likely that many of the ‘complaints’ cited by the department came from the rural committees themselves, whose members have long seen cattle as much more an obstruction to their financial ambitions than to the roads.

As we have seen, the AFCD has couched the relocation programme in terms entirely sympathetic to the rural committees, describing the cattle as a disruption to traffic and with only a token reference to their well-being.

Granted, some of these claims are purely ambit – even the Highways Dept would flinch at the cost of building a highway to Tai O. And the timing is doubtless aimed at grabbing a share of the torrents of cash about to be tipped onto the island.

But the scale of those demands lays bare the ambition of the powerful local business interests to turn Lantau into a mass tourism playground with streams of tourists continuously bussed into Ngong Ping and Tai O.

None of that would be possible with the island’s current road network, low speed limits and the proximity to cattle.

LegCo will hold hearings into a complaint against AFCD filed by cattle concern groups on April 24 and April 30.

To show your opposition to the forced relocation scheme and to demand the government adopt an innovative and sustainable development programme for Lantau, please sign our petition.

Posted in Relocation

The AFCD view: Cattle are a ‘nuisance’

Here’s a shortcut to understanding the relocation issue: for the AFCD, the removal of Lantau cattle to Sai Kung has not been to protect cattle from humans and cars. Rather, it’s the other way round.

In a letter from the AFCD Cattle Management Team on January 15, the department  refers several times to the cattle as a “nuisance.” The letter says the relocation experiment was necessary “to reduce the disturbance they bring and to avoid the accidents that they cause.”

As the AFCD frontline on all cattle issues, the Cattle Management Team has presumably the best knowledge and understanding of the whole exercise. So it is highly revealing that not once did its explanation mention the well-being of the animals (see the full text below).

After the LBA and other cattle concern groups filed a complaint to LegCo last month, and the publicity this generated, the department clearly felt the need to explain itself.

So the Food and Health Secretary, Ko Wing-man, issued this statement on March 26 in response to a LegCo question. Unlike his colleagues on the cattle team, the secretary managed to make a reference to the need to “minimise the nuisance caused to the community and the potential danger posed to road users and the cattle themselves.”

In the 1300-word statement that is the sole suggestion that the health and safety of the animals may have been any kind of consideration. In context, it appears almost as an afterthought.

But Dr Ko did find his way to mention words ‘nuisance’ and ‘traffic’ six times each. ‘Traffic congestion’ and ‘obstruction to traffic’ each appear twice.

Whatever the factors behind the relocation, the actual needs of the cattle had very little to do with it.

Letter to Ho Pui Han, Chairperson, Association For Tai O Environment and Development, January 15, 2014.

In order to solve the problem of stray cows making a nuisance to residents, this department has since April 2012 planned to take Lantau cattle from a complaints blackspot and relocate them to a place well-removed from residents (eg, Lo Kei Wan), and to allow them to continue living in a situation where they will not create a nuisance. Even so, most cows after relocation however will return to their original location, even more many will rest on the main road.

Along with Lantau development, traffic is daily growing busier. This department has recently received many residents’ complaints, saying cattle are queuing on the road and seriously impacting traffic. In view of this, and after considering the advice of ecological consultants, the department has since last November tested moving some cattle to Sai Kung Country Park to reduce the disturbance they bring and to avoid the accidents that they cause. All cattle are already sterilised and ear-tagged for recognition.

This plan still is at the experimental stage. The department will continue to monitor and assess its results.

Hereby thanking you for your concern for the Lantau cattle.

Cattle Management Team

Animal Management Department

AFCD

Posted in Relocation

Ho Loy interview recalls past relocation cruelty

Life on Lantau magazine’s current issue carries an interview with LBA chairperson Ho Loy, who talks about how she came to be involved in animal conservation on Lantau.

With cattle ‘relocation’ once again in the headlines, she recalls a notorious relocation exercise on Mui Wo cows in 2006:

The incident was documented by a local community group, with full video and photos showing how our public money was being used for cruelty against animals. I reported the case through my business network. It attracted an animal concern group ‘Animal Earth’ who helped to expose it to the media and Legco. The case finally caused an increase in the penalty of Ordinance 169 – Prevention of Animal Cruelty.

We can’t link to the story directly, but here is a .pdf for download.

Ho Loy Life On Lantau

Posted in LBA, Relocation

Centralising Conversations

To help the LBA team to better monitor the feeling and discussions within the community within one central place we have decided to close the option of posting comments on this site.  We ask people to make their comments via our Facebook group – http://www.facebook.com/LantauBuffaloAssociation

Posted in Uncategorized