5.23 World Turtle Day – Can Hong Kong do more to save our endangered turtles?
Hong Kong has an exceptionally rich biodiversity including globally threatened species. One such group is the freshwater turtles in which nearly all the species across Asia have been threatened by over-exploitation. Local wild turtle populations used to be rather robust due to good protection. However, that is no longer the case.
According to a study conducted by Lingnan University for the past 15 years, three species of Hong Kong endangered turtles, Golden Coin Turtle, Big-headed Turtle and Beale’s Eyed Turtle are disappearing due to illegal poaching and trading. Despite patrols by Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and special joint operation with the Police, poaching remains widespread, even within country parks.
It is not too late to save the endangered turtles. For the Critically Endangered Golden Coin Turtle which has largely disappeared from the wild, there is a joint conservation breeding programme by Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden and AFCD. The young turtles produced can be released back to wild providing illegal poaching can be addressed. For the other species, there are still breeding wild populations left. More effective and sustained actions are urgently needed. In particular, the Police should be proactive in the investigation and enforcement of wildlife poaching and trade. AFCD should establish an anti-poaching enforcement unit that undertakes regular, targeted night patrols. These actions will not only save these amazing wild animals in Hong Kong, but would also allow the restoration of wild turtles in the Greater Bay.Press Release
9 September 2022
Small area of reed at Sha Po Marsh in Kam Tin area was found to have turned yellow and wilted on 12 August 2022. Subsequent investigation on 23 August found that the area of wilted reeds had expanded to an estimated area of 0.5 hectare. On 18 August, fifteen wilted adult reed shoots were examined and had many scale insects consisting of both adults and young instars, probably Nipponaclerda biwakoensis, under the leaf sheaths.
WETLANDS – THE KEY TO A SUSTAINABLE NORTHERN METROPOLIS
By Dr. Michael LAU (Shared on the website of Institute for the Environment of HKUST – Shaping a Sustainable Northern Metropolis)
Comments on Northern Metropolis Development Strategy Report under the Policy Address 2021
Hong Kong Wetlands Conservation Association (HKWCA) welcomes and supports the proactive approach on wetland conservation proposed under the Policy Address 2021. The measures including resumption of about 700 ha of private wetlands and fish ponds by the Government and creation of three wetland conservation parks with a total of 2000 ha provide ultimate and long term conservation and wise use of these valuable remaining wetlands in the Greater Bay Area not only for biodiversity, but also for the Hong Kong people and the future residents of Northern Metropolis to actively enjoy and make a living.
We agree with the major functions of these proposed parks which integrates ecological conservation and enhancement, preservation and promotion of modernized aquaculture industry and job opportunities, emphasis of scientific research and opportunities for education and recreation.HKWCA’s Comments on Northern Metropolis Development Strategy Report 2021
Highlights of our comments and recommendations:
- For aquaculture development, how to make traditional pond fish culture sustainable should also be included.
- Scientific research should also cover wetlands management and restoration, and how to run effective education and public engagement programme.
- Statutory Wetland Trust should be explored as an option in running the future parks.
- The active agricultural fields and ponds at Ho Sheung Heung/Tsung Yuen and the southwest of ShaLeng should be maintained to link the new wetland conservation parks with Long Valley Nature Park
- Proper design is essential in long-term sustainability of the conservation parks. Adoption of the concept of nature reserve zoning including Core Zone, Buffer Zone, Experimental/Sustainable Use Zone and Aquaculture Zone is suggested.
- The three conservation parks and extended HK Wetland Park each should each have a different wetland theme that aligns with the ecology and showcases how the local people have been living in harmony with nature.
- An open and participatory process in which the experts and key stakeholders can work with the Government right from the start.
- Existing information on the present situation, the historical changes, and future trends should be gathered and reviewed as soon as feasible.
- To fast track the lengthy land resumption process.
- Focus on the designation and running of one park and then extend to the others.
- The proactive approach in resuming private land for conservation provides a breakthrough in solving the gridlock of conservation versus development. This approach should be seriously considered in other cases to achieve win-win for the society.
A New Egretry found in Kam Tin
On 4 May 2021, we found a new egretry in Kam Tin. This egretry is on a clump of dense, young trees above a West Rail mitigated wetland. We counted 34 Little Egret nests and 17 Chinese Pond Heron nests but there may be a few more hidden from sight. Some Little Egret chicks have already hatched out. Several Chinese Pond Herons were seen carrying sticks back to build nest while others were sitting on nest, apparently incubating the eggs. We shall continue to monitor this egretry and investigate where the egrets and herons forage for food.
The Hong Kong Wetlands Conservation Association (HKWCA)
is a non-government organisation founded in July 2018. Our aim is to promote the conservation of wetlands and nature. HKWCA is also keen on advancing environmental education and sharing global and local experiences in wetland management.
* Hong Kong Wetlands Conservation Association is a charitable institution exempt from tax under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance.