Two nights ago a female cow was struck by a car on South Lantau Road.
Fortunately she suffered no more than abrasions and should quickly make a full recovery. Others have not been so lucky.
According to the Lantau Buffalo Association (LBA) three bovines have died on local roads since the beginning of last year – two adults and one calf. Last month a bull died after being struck by an unknown vehicle at Shap Sze Tung near Sai Kung.
The three worst blackspots are the South Lantau section of Tung Chung Road, the bend at Cheung Sha by the police station and South Lantau Road near the Shui Hau football pitch.
If you are a driver on Lantau roads, you must be cattle-aware. This means observing the speed limit, approaching bends and blind spots cautiously and having some familiarity with their behaviour.
Bovines are not fast and skittish animals – they will not jump out in front of traffic. But you must be aware that you may encounter one on the road suddenly when you round a bend.
You should also be alert to local cattle moving to or from their overnight shelter late in the afternoon or early mornings.
If you are an experienced local driver, you most likely have already adopted these practices. Police and LBA data suggest that a high proportion of accidents involve drivers inexperienced in Lantau conditions – the narrow roads, the slower speeds and the cattle movements are not found in the rest of Hong Kong.
If you are involved in an accident with a cattle or buffalo, you must remain at the scene and render assistance, just as you would if you had hit a human pedestrian. Leaving the scene could incur up to 12 months’ jail time and a $10,000 fine.
As with any other accident you should call the police.
If the animal is injured, you should also call one of the local cattle groups (see below). They or the police can call the AFCD Cattle Team, which can provide professional assistance. It can take more than an hour for them to arrive, however. Local groups can assist in the meantime in making an early assessment of the injured animal and providing some basic aid.
Remember that often after an accident an injured animal may wander away. You can assist by watching and if necessary following the animal – often they may stray into the bushes at the side of the road and become hard to find. Do not assume that the animal is unhurt because it is walking.
If you are a passenger or a passer-by this also applies – you can help by observing the injured animal until the vet arrives.
Our bovine populations are one of Lantau’s treasures – be sure you make room for them on the road.
LBA Rescue Hotline: 8103 6312
PALS: 9197 4371
SPCA: 2984 0060
Tai O Community Cattle Group: 5181 4406