"Don't Feed Wild Animals" Programme

In recent years, human feeding appears to be one of the major causes of inducing the unnatural growth of monkey and wild pig population in Hong Kong. Through frequent contacts with humans, these wild animals might lose their instinctive fear to humans and become habituated to stay near the urban area to approach human for food. Some of them might even become aggressive and stray into nearby urban settlement for searching of abandoned rubbish, or snatching plastic bags from human and causing human-wild animals conflict in the society. To abate the conflict, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has adopted multiple approaches, including the enactment of feeding ban under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance in 1999 and the implementation of contraceptive programme for long-term control of the monkey and wild pig population. Meanwhile, various educational and publicity programmes have also been implemented by AFCD to educate the public about the negative consequence of feeding wild animal, as well as the preventive measures against human-wildlife conflicts.

Since 2018, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK) has been appointed by AFCD to organise and manage the first fauna educational programme – “Don’t Feed Wild Animals” Programme, aiming to reach out the public at feeding blackspots and deliver the message of not feeding wild animals during the contract period.

Wild Animals in Hong Kong

With Hong Kong being a small city with dense human population, many people may overlook her rich biodiversity. In fact, there are many mammals in Hong Kong, with more than 50 species recorded, including monkeys and wild pigs.

Monkey

Monkeys are mainly distributed in Kam Shan, Lion Rock, Shing Mun Country Parks and Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve in Hong Kong. The species includes Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), Long-tailed Macaque (M. fascicularis) and their hybrids. Hong Kong falls within the range of natural distribution of the Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta). However, the original wild stock is believed to have become extirpated. The existing wild monkey populations are considered as the descendants of the individuals which have been introduced to the Kowloon Hills, i.e. Kam Shan and Lion Rock Country Parks in the 1910s.

The total population of wild macaques in Hong Kong is estimated at 1,800 individuals. They live in troops that can reach up to 200 individuals. Their natural diet includes forest leaves, flowers, shoots, roots and barks as well as insects as supplements. AFCD has planted suitable trees in country parks to provide plenty of natural food for monkeys.

Interesting behaviours:

  1. Storing food in their cheek pouches like hamsters
  2. Grooming, including taking bugs (i.e. insects, tangled fur) and debris out of the fur of each other, is a part of their social behaviours
  3. Opening mouth and jumping towards human is a part of their defensive behaviours; however, they usually do not attack if direct gazing is avoided
  4. Their face and rump will become more red during mating seasons

Wild Pig

Wild Pig (Sus scrofa) is the largest native terrestrial mammal in Hong Kong with adults weighing up to 200 kg and reaching a body length up to 2 m. They have thick and short bristly coats of brownish grey to black colour. Young wild pigs are born with a coat of chocolate and cream coloured stripes along their torso. This pattern fades within the first six months to one year. 

Wild pigs are opportunistic omnivores that feed on bulbs, roots and tubers, as well as earthworms and insects. They are also good swimmers.

Interesting behaviours:

  1. They are secretive and wary of human contact in general
  2. They are nocturnal animals (active during the night)
  3. Adult males are solitary while adult females flock with piglets

“Don’t Feed Wild Animals” Programme

With the aim to further engage the public, in addition to school talks, a series of outreaching education activities including guided tours and educational booths around the subject are performed at Piper’s Hill Car Park and Kam Shan or Lion Rock Country Parks during weekends and/or public holidays. The “Don’t Feed Wild Animals” Programme focuses on deterring suspected feeding activities, raising public awareness and encouraging them to respect wildlife.

Public Awareness

In recent years, some wild animals including monkeys and wild pigs have adapted to forage near the border of country parks or even lingering in the human settlements of which leaded to human–wildlife conflicts. Such conflicts would lead to the risk of animal attack, habitat deterioration, traffic accidents or environmental hygiene.

Since 2018, over 13,000 people received a better understanding of the natural behaviours of wild animals and the importance of not feeding them through guided tours and educational booths.

Deter Suspected Feeding Activities

In addition to conveying the message on not feeding wild animals, during the operation of educational booth, OPCFHK team often observe some suspected feeding activites. For instance, people are holding human food in the presence of monkeys or deliberately leave bulk food behind. Hence, OPCFHK team spares no effort to stop any suspected feeding activities on site.

Community Education

Since July 2018, over 50 free educational talks and eco-tours were held both on site (country parks) and at schools. Educational booths around the subject are also performed at Piper’s Hill Car Park and Kam Shan or Lion Rock Country Parks during weekends and/or public holidays.

In order to enhance public understanding on the proper ways of interacting with wildlife, OPCFHK and AFCD have designed a series of educational talks suitable for kindergartens and primary schools in the 2019/20 school year. The talks mainly introduce the commonly seen monkeys and wild pigs in Hong Kong and the correct behavior when encountering these wild animals, such as not feeding them. Students can also gain practical knowledge through interactive games.

Get Involved

Passionate in spreading the words and helping the precious wild life in Hong Kong? Join us and be our volunteer! “'Don’t Feed Wild Animals' Volunteer Programme 2019/20" aims to promote the message of not feeding wild animals whilst engaging the public to be a conservation ambassador. For more details, please click here.