Q and A on AFCD's Policy for Handling Stray Cattle and Buffalo
Q: What should I do if I see cattle or buffalo?
A: Most of the time you do not need to do anything. Generally, cattle and buffalo will not pose a threat to humans, but it is important not to disturb them, and to be aware that such large animals are potentially dangerous if they feel threatened. Please don’t frighten them by sudden movements or noise, and don’t try to touch them or get too close to them. Please do not try to feed them. Make sure to control your pet dogs so they don’t upset or frighten the cattle and buffalo. If you see an animal which appears to be injured, sick or trapped, please report the case to the Department through the hotline at 1823.
AFCD has been conducting publicity and education in collaboration with local NGOs about how to behave around these large animals. Pamphlets, posters and publicity on public transport in relevant areas give more information in this regard.
Q: The cattle and buffalo seem very docile and they don’t disturb anybody. Why does AFCD have to do something about them?
A: There are still many areas in the rural parts of Hong Kong provide ideal habitats for these animals to thrive and reproduce. If left unchecked, the reproductive rate will result in population growth and the increased numbers tend to cause more problems, particularly if the cattle move from rural areas to urban areas. We want to have a stable cattle and buffalo population for public enjoyment without causing any problems to local residents. We have to explore ways to limit the population growth of cattle and sometimes move them from urban areas back into rural areas.
Q: How does relocation work? What stops the animals from going back to the previous location they have stayed?
A: Relocation means moving cattle from one location where they have been causing problems (usually in and around residential areas) to country parks where they can live happily without causing nuisance. Prior to relocation, inspections will be conducted to the potential relocation sites to ensure resources are suitable and adequate to sustain the living of the relocated cattle. From our observations, some cattle do move significant distances and go to other areas after relocation, however, it does not always happen to be moving back to where they were caught previously. AFCD staff regularly patrol the relocation sites. If cattle are found wandering outside Country Parks, staff will herd them back into the Park.
Q: Some cattle look thin, does it mean they do not have enough food? Do we need to feed them?
A: Stray cattle or buffalo should not be fed. As feral animals, they are capable to feed themselves in the wild. On the contrary, human feeding may change their natural behaviour and survival instinct, encouraging them to seek food from humans actively. When cattle are conditioned to be fed, some cattle are seen snatching food from tourists or scavenging from rubbish bins. Consumption of inappropriate food may cause indigestion, gastrointestinal blockage, allergic reactions in cattle or buffalo which subsequently result in sickness or weight loss. This would lead to long term impact to the animals as well as the ecosystem.
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AFCD Cattle Management Team