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Subject: [Hong Kong] How much longer for Kam Tin Buffalo Fields? [Print This Page]

Author: ajohn    Time: 10/11/2008 13:07     Subject: How much longer for Kam Tin Buffalo Fields?

Once again, dumping activities have started in the Kam Tin Buffalo Fields. This time, the trucks are not just dumping at the edges of the fields but are actually driving through the Buffalo Fields to dump into the old buffalo wallows. These are the only areas which currently hold any water (especially since the ridiculously over-engineered new drainage channel has dried out the area). The scale of dumping seems to be considerably more than previously, covering much of the northern part of the Buffalo Fields (despite only starting dumping late last week!)

The usual Grey-headed Lapwing flock seems to not be using the Buffalo Fields this year. In fact, apart from a flock in the MDC which was too distant to count, I haven't seen more than 3 individuals at Kam Tin yet this autumn (compared to 23 birds this time last year). With the level of disturbance and the filling of the fields, I wonder how much longer this flock will remain in HK? Painted-snipe numbers at Kam Tin also seem to have dropped this year as have most wetland species using the Buffalo Fields (unsurprising, given how quickly they have dried out)
Author: wdickson    Time: 10/11/2008 16:29

Will HKBWS conservation committee members have a visit there and take photo records to complain to the relevant gov. department? Is there any press event relating to this?
Author: sdavid    Time: 13/11/2008 09:16

I was out at the Buffalo Fields yesterday afternoon and the filling is happening at a rapid rate.  Trucks seems to be dumping their loads every 5-10 minutes with the excavator spreading the muck around.  It doesn't much look like topsoil to me though and i can't see how this would be agricultural improvements, especially with the amount of construction waste contained in each load.

At the rate they are going, the Buffalo Fields will be gone by the end of next week.

In addition to importance for birds, this fields support breeding Chinese Bullfrog, another protected species. Doesn't look like they'll be able to breed in these areas next year....

I didn't follow the trucks or take any registration numbers but they are entering in through Cheung Chun San Tseun.

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Author: sdavid    Time: 17/11/2008 09:14

EPD and PlanD are investigating the matter thanks to input from WWF and KFBG, but no one is hopeful of a positive resolution as loopholes in the law appear to have been exploited in this recent dumping and historically at the site.

Obviously not the most attractive of the sites to watch birds in Hong Kong, and the writing appears to be on the wall for Kam Tin, but I'm surprised at the lack of response to this thread considering the coverage that other issues receive. I think that HKBWS will need to update the Birding HK site and pamphlet soon -

I haven't been to the site since the photo's from last week so not sure of the extent of dumping coverage now.  I wonder where the Grey-headed Lapwings will be wintering next year....
Author: 深藍-Owen    Time: 17/11/2008 10:04

been there on Sat surprisingly after the report from local Chinese News paper on 14th Friday the dumping activities remain very busy seems they just dun care, i try to look for if any lapwing or bird left there but none except a unknown person asking me what I'm photograph with a very unfriendly tone, I just ignore him.

the newspaper link: ... amp;art_id=11846525
Author: HFCheung    Time: 17/11/2008 14:05

I have been interviewed by reporters on this issue. First the Apply Daily (?) report about 2 weeks ago, then the Sing Tao West NT post reporter last Sunday. I am afraid that this may not be sufficient to stop anything. Since Kam Tin is not in one of the 12 high-priority sites for conservation, I think there will be no money for a project like Kam Tin.

HF Cheung
Author: HFCheung    Time: 18/11/2008 21:11

To remind us of what Kam Tin buffola field used to be, see this photo.  It was taken a few years ago.

HF Cheung

[ Last edited by HFCheung at 18/11/2008 21:13 ]

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Author: 深藍-Owen    Time: 18/11/2008 21:28

so sad.. anyone can tell where are those buffalo.. any survive? last time i saw them more than a year ago...

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Author: ajohn    Time: 19/11/2008 10:30

It's good to see some pictures of the Buffalo Fields as they used to be. When I arrived in Hong Kong (6 years ago) there were probably about 100-150 buffalo. AFCD systematically removed them from the area around the Buffalo Fields, apparently because villagers complained that there were buffalo on their land (I suspect the villagers were unhappy that the buffalo increased the ecological value of the land and made it harder to fill the land). The herd that lived around the Buffalo Fields was completed removed by AFCD. I once tried asking the AFCD staff who were responsible for catching the buffalo why they were doing this work, and what happened to the animals, but they refused to even talk to me to explain what was happening.

There are still buffalo in the KT area. They sometimes use the Buffalo Fields for grazing at night, but do not use the area during the day as previously (they are usually in shrubland areas where there is less human disturbance). The result is that the area is becoming more overgrown and there are fewer wallows (which are created by buffalo trying to keep cool), so Kam Tin is generally less suitable for waterbirds and starlings than previously.
Author: sdavid    Time: 12/02/2009 10:24

Just some pictures taken the other day at Kam Tin and Shui Mei.  Sad to see so much seasonal wetland habitat being lost and it would appear authorities aren't in a position to do anything due to the land zoning.

I can't say I've seen any GH Lapwing there this winter, though I have seen 21 on the Kam Tin River on one occasion.

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Author: ajohn    Time: 7/01/2010 14:34

The land filling at the Buffalo Fields has continued this winter. The Buffalo fields are now almost entirely destroyed (probably 1/10 the area of 3 years ago, split into a number of fragments). Nearby marshland at Shui Mei (shown on the first of David's photos) has also been filled considerably over the last few months.

I have contacted the planning department, who posted 'enforcement notices' at the site, but despite these the filling work continues (dumping taking place within 20m of the planning department notices) It seems the local villagers are now aware that they can get away with absolutely anything at Kam Tin, and that the government of Hong Kong will turn a blind eye to their activities. Other government departments (AFCD, EPD, LandsD) show absolutely no interest in the issue and shift the responsibility to others.

I think it would be disastrous for the HK natural environment if similar activity was allowed to continue in New Territories. Many sites which are currently good for birds could be allowed to get destroyed in such a way. After the imminent loss of the Buffalo Fields, which site sill be next? Shek Kong? Pui O? Lam Tsuen? Long Valley?
Author: sbena    Time: 8/01/2010 08:00

Earlier this week a tv programme was aired on ATV about buffalo in HK. It included footage from Kam Tin and Pui O. Hope this raises some awareness about the plight of those two sites.

Link to tv programme
Author: sdavid    Time: 23/02/2010 11:26

At least 24 buffalo, including 5 youngsters, were present on an island of vegeation in amongst the building waste that now covers the former Buffalo Fields.

Quite how this dumping of 'topsoil' will benefit agriculture in the future remains to be seen.  I'm not a farmer, but I should imagine stell reinforcing rods, broken plastic piping, pieces of barrier fencing,  broken tiles and toilets cisterns aren't the best of substrates to cultivate crops or rear livestock.  But I may be wrong.....

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