Buffalo wars: Yu demands answers, conservationists demand protections

The future of Lantau’s cattle and buffalo populations is once again in dispute after an elderly woman was injured in a buffalo incident in Ham Tin.

Lantau district councillor Randy Yu has seized on the event to demand AFCD officials attend today’s Islands District Council meeting to answer questions and “ensure the safety of citizens’ lives.”

But there is disagreement even on the basic facts of the incident, including the date.

According to Yu’s account an 82-year-old woman, Ms Chen, and her un-named helper were knocked over by a male buffalo in the early hours of September 26.

Chen had more than ten stitches stitched on her wound and suffered physical and mental injuries and still had lingering palpitations.

“Since the accident, residents have been very worried about the safety of children and the elderly when they enter and exit the village,” Yu said.

However, conservationists argue that the AFCD’s neglect of Lantau buffalo and cattle herds endangers people and animals and could lead to their extinction.

“It is of vital importance that both citizens and community buffalos and cattle can coexist in safety and security,” Jean Leung, Pui O’s well-known buffalo carer, said in a statement.

“In order for Lantau to develop sustainably, we urge the government to have a clear policy in relation to the protection of buffalos and cattle in the community.”

Leung said Chen was not attacked but in fact she and her helper had fallen over trying to avoid a young male called Bulging Eyes who was “chasing off cows that had come into his territory.”

She said the incident took place on September 4, not September 26 as Yu claims. 

Leung says she immediately advised the AFCD and the next day Bulging Eyes was captured and relocated to the New Territory buffalo centre.

Leung pointed to the deaths of a female cow and her calf on South Lantau Road three weeks as another sign of the increasingly risky environment for local bovines.

But she said “senior AFCD officials do not seem to understand or even care about the habits of the cattle and water buffalos, neither do they respect the opinions of residents who know the herds well, directly disrupting the lives of the water buffalos and cattle.”

In recent years the AFCD neutering programme had resulted in 99% of the buffalo females being neutered and the castration of many male buffalo, causing clashes within and between herds.

“If this continues, it is not inconceivable that the cattle and water buffalos will disappear from this area completely. This will be a form of extinction.”

She also called on the government to close loopholes in regulations on the protection of coastal territories and strengthen enforcement of the laws intended to protect wetlands.

Leung and others took part in a protest in Central ahead of the district council meeting this morning.

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