Residents of Hoi Ha are greeted every morning by the sight of their household rubbish and tourist litter strewn over the Hoi Ha Road and the surrounding hillsides after rubbish bins are opened by monkeys and knocked over by wild boar. These animals are eating food which may harm them, and the provision of a ready food source adjacent to a village encourages wild animals to come into villages. A large male Macaque monkey at Hoi Ha, adept at flipping open rubbish bin lids, now associates humans with food, and snatches day-trippers’ bags.
Animals should not be blamed for this situation – the fault lies with Government for failing to provide animal-proof bins inside our Country Parks.
Nicola and Dave Newbery, long time residents of Hoi Ha, first brought the matter to the attention of FEHD, AFCD, the Village Representatives, the Sai Kung Rural Committee and the Tai Po District Office in 2015. Last year, some action was taken and the bins were tied up with string. This solution did not cure the problem; however, thanks to the efforts of residents and Animal Concern groups, chains were subsequently added which have somewhat improved the situation. Although boar can no longer tip over the bins, monkeys still open the lids, and boar simply step off the slope into the bins. Hoi Ha is still awash with rubbish.
Residents were puzzled earlier this week by the sight of litter and rubbish bins being removed from Hoi Ha, wondering if this might be part of AFCD’s “Take Your Litter Home” initiative. The following day, a team of FEHD officials arrived with the contractor responsible for the thankless task of cleaning up the scattered litter which washes across the road, into streams crossing the valley floor and, eventually, into Hoi Ha Marine Park.
FEHD were under the misapprehension that the Hoi Ha enclave is part of Sai Kung Country Park and, therefore, AFCD is responsible for litter collection. The reality is that enclaves such as Hoi Ha in the western part of Sai Kung Country Park are administered by Tai Po District Office, an anachronism dating back to the pre-1970s when the only access to these villages was by sea, and the enclaves in the eastern half by Sai Kung. If the enclaves were incorporated within the Country Parks, then they would clearly be the responsibility of AFCD. A unitary authority would clearly be an advantage in the management of such problems.
Everyone in the village is now waiting to see what happens this coming weekend when the hundreds of tourists arrive and find nowhere to dispose of their rubbish, except the large bins by the bus-stop.