Safety of cattle: Sai Kung Buffalo Watch presents case for change to legislators

"You have been warned," activists say to speeding drivers as they fit dash cams to cars

Buffalo Watch campaigns for change so our cows will be safer

How can the safety of our cattle be improved? SK Buffalo Watch coordinator Carol Biddell, volunteer Karina O’Carroll and activist Ell Tam recently submitted proposals for change to  Legislative Council panelists. 

The trio recommended:

  • CATTLE GRIDS to restrict the animals’ movement. The grids are holes in the ground with iron girders embedded. The cattle can’t get over them but vehicles and people can. Outward Bound has one at its gate. 

AFCD staff have built a cattle grid at their farm to show officials from other departments. Karina said they are hopeful that soon “cattle grids will become a reality”.

  • SPEED REDUCTION methods for Tai Mong Tsai and Sai Sha Roads. Cattle are killed or injured by speeding vehicles on these roads every year. 

“It is only a matter of time before there are more human fatalities,” Carol said. Big beasts with a lot of mass can make a mess of a speeding car. This is more likely to happen at night. Sponsors have now enabled SKBW to fit dash cams on their cars. “You have been warned,” Karina said.

  • DROP CATTLE SHELTERS proposal:  This suggestion should be abandoned SKBW says as unnecessary and bad for the cattle. They are used to finding their own shelter and freedom to seek food and water keeps them healthy.  “Penning the cows in shelters is a dreadful idea,” Karina said.

“We believe any form of fencing them in will spell the end for our cattle. We have seen it at another location in Hong Kong. The health of cattle fenced in deteriorates, they lose body condition, they live in mud fields basically as the condition of the ground also deteriorates. The welfare issues regarding basically making a cattle ‘zoo’ are too high to justify even considering the thought further.” 

  •  TASK FORCE:  The group recommends a Cattle Task Force be set up with representatives from relevant government departments. “We see sensible proposals such as cattle grids being passed from department to department endlessly,” Karina said. 
  • FEEDING: “One of our major issues is feeding of the cattle, particularly at Wong Shek. We are trying to work with departments to improve the bins at Wong Shek, to stop the cattle scavenging, encourage more frequent rubbish collection on weekends, as well as improve fencing to keep the cattle out of the BBQ sites.” 

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Day to day work looking after the cattle is very good, however.  SKBW, SPCA and AFCD have an effective relationship monitoring the welfare of the cattle and arranging treatment by AFCD vets when they are injured.   Ell Tam of Sai Kung Cattle Angel  has been working with SKBW for the last two years. “Ell works incredibly hard doing public education and  attending emergency cases,” Karina said.  “She presented our views at the Legco meeting in Cantonese. Ell has a large following and between the two groups we have over 1500 friends of our Sai Kung cattle.” 

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