Villagers at Sha Lo Wan on north Lantau have erected a 2.5m iron gate to keep out visitors, closing one of Hong Kong’s most popular hiking trails.
The village closed the gate last Friday during the long holiday weekend, leading to heated scenes as hikers and runners tried to pass.
Two people who tried to skirt around the gate became lost in the nearby hills, sparking a rescue operation by the fire department.
HK01 reported that the gate was locked with iron chains and protected by barbed wire and tree branches. Around a dozen villagers stood guard.
A sign outside the village states it is a “private area.” Any person who enters “will be treated as a thief and will be reported to the police.”
Police said they had received a complaint from villagers on Friday morning after a heated dispute broke out with hikers who they accused of trespassing, HK01 said.
The hikers departed after police arrived, but were dissatisfied that the police could not explain whether the closure was legal or not.
One visitor, Ms Wong, told Apple Daily that villagers had threatened to beat her if she entered the village. She described them as “selfish and unreasonable” and questioned how they could forcibly occupy a public road.
Late on Friday afternoon two hikers decided to climb into the hills to get around the locked gate became lost.
The villagers refused to open the gate for firefighters, who were forced to use a ladder get into the village. The rescuers located the lost couple near Sha Lo Wan and evacuated them by boat from the San Shek Wan pier.
In response to reporters’ queries, the Lands Department said it would “follow up” the incident.