They might seem odd “wildlife”, yet Lantau’s cattle and water buffalo now roam free, and are part of the ecosystem.
During a cold spell inearly 2008, the buffalo importance was perhaps highlighted by Pui O becoming a refuge for thrushes, Taiga Flycatchers, Daurian Redstarts, Red-flanked Bluetails and other birds – which were finding it tough finding food elsewhere, yet maybe sustained here partly as result of buffalo dung/wetland being still ok for insects.
Clive Noffke of Green Lantau Association has strived to ensure the cattle and buffalo are still allowed to roam free. He’s worked on leaflets on the cattle and buffalo; some of the text from them here, and pdf files attached.
Yellow cattle were once a very important part of village life on Lantau. Even up to 30 years ago cattle were needed to plough the upland paddy fields for rice cultivation.
Their droppings (dung) were the most important fertilizer for gardens. At the Trappist Monastery, cows were kept for providing fresh milk. These days the cattle are no longer used, and rice cultivation has been replaced by small vegetable plots.
The Trappist Monastery has long ceased to produce milk on Lantau.
Today’s herds at Cheung Sha, Tong Fuk, Shui Hau, Shek Pik and Discovery Bay are a small remnant (some 70 animals) of the once numerous animals that were our valued partners.
Lantau Water Buffalo
Water buffalo were once a very important part of village life on Lantau.
These immensely strong animals were the ‘tractors’ which ploughed the alluvial coastal plains for wet-land rice cultivation.
Their droppings (dung) were the most important fertilizer for gardens.
Up to the 1970s, buffalo were still being used at Pui O to plough the fields.
But rice cultivation soon ceased and the hard-working buffaloes have been left to fend for themselves on the remaining wetland plains.
Their descendants are still with us today although now reduced through culling to some 60 animals only,an enchanting and poignant reminder of our agricultural heritage and the essential part played by these, our valued partners.
Lantau Water Buffalo leaflet (pdf)
Lantau Cattle leaflet (pdf)