October 4 is World Animal Day!
Happy World Animal Day! Hong Kong is known for being an urban jungle, abound with stressed-out city executives and ever-present pollution. The pandemic has, for many urbanites, been a wake-up call to go out, leave the air-conditioning behind and get moving.
As a clean, vegan and eco-friendly beauty brand, we’re also big animal lovers who believe living green starts at home, by taking care of the natural biodiversity around us. Here are some tips for protecting Hong Kong’s furry (or scaly) residents and their homes:
These long-snouted creatures, also known as Eurasian wild pigs, aren’t cuddly by any standards, but you might be tempted by their adorable piglets! While they generally make their homes in the countryside mountains, the occasional venture into urban areas isn’t uncommon. Look out for them in grassy areas, especially in rural areas of Hong Kong Island or near Tai Lam, Tai Mo Shan and Plover Cove.
Wild boars will eat just about anything, from fruit and nuts to trash dropped by careless hikers. Processed human foods aren’t the healthiest diet options for these pigs, so avoid feeding them, directly or indirectly. Though they can be fiercely protective of their babies, these placid pigs won’t attack unless provoked.
Hong Kong’s mischievous monkeys generally belong to the red-faced Rhesus macaque species.
Like the wild boar, these primates are also opportunistic feeders who thrive off unsuspecting hikers. Just because they have opposable thumbs doesn’t mean you should feed them supermarket snacks, though! As monkeys tend to be forest-based, they play a vital role in the health of the forest ecosystem. Tampering with their diet means putting the natural environment at risk, too.
Being social animals, they congregate in large numbers: you’ll rarely find a monkey on its own. Some of the most famous monkey hotspots include Kam Shan Country Park, or Monkey Hill, and Shing Mun Reservoir.
Monkeys have a strong sense of social hierarchy. Should you find yourself under attack, stay calm and make yourself appear larger. Try not to make eye contact as this may be seen as aggression.
This is one animal you probably won’t be tempted to pet! Despite their beady eyes and forked tongues, snakes don’t pose too much of a threat as long as you steer clear of them. As goes for most wild animals in these parts, they’re non-aggressive and prefer to be left—and leave you—alone. Venomous snakes are uncommon, and most snakes you encounter will likely be harmless grass snakes.
They mostly dwell in the New Territories, especially around the wilderness of Tung Chung, though the chances of seeing a snake on your hike are much, much lower than those of seeing a wild boar or monkey. That’s because most will dart out of your way long before you ever get close. But if injured, they might struggle to get away, so keep an eye out for them while driving or hiking at night.
Picking up trash that snakes could get trapped in, like six-pack holders and other plastic contraptions, is a great way to keep Hong Kong’s snake population safe.
Stray dogs & cats
Strays can be found almost anywhere in Hong Kong, from Sheung Wan and Sai Kung to hiking trails along Repulse Bay. While most of these furry friends have been domesticated, some may fear or mistrust humans due to past abuse, so it’s important to tread carefully all the same. The best way to care for strays is by giving them a loving home through adoption!
Stray dogs tend to roam in packs, making them a little more dangerous to approach. The same goes for stray cats that appear more skittish or defensive: it may be a community cat that has had little to no contact with humans. In both cases, keep a wide berth to show you mean them no harm, and call wildlife authorities.
On the other hand, many free-roaming cats live near shops, markets, and busy hiking trails. They come and go as they please, approaching humans for food and affection. These are almost always domesticated cats that are as amiable as any pet cat (which means they could fall anywhere from very unfriendly to very friendly!)
Tip: Look out for a clipped ear, which indicates a spayed or neutered animal!
Chinese white dolphins
Photo by Olivia To on Medium
These shy marine mammals made headlines in 2018 when the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge threatened their numbers. Three years on, the WWF reports that while global Chinese white dolphin populations remain stable, these gentle giants—of which only 32 continue to live in Hong Kong waters—are still vulnerable to extinction.
They make their home offshore, near Tung Chung and the surrounding Lantau waters. Today, the Chinese white dolphins’ habitat is threatened by sewage, construction and land reclamation. Trawling and overfishing also threaten their food source, and haphazard fishing nets can trap and injure dolphins.
As we leave our offices and foray into hiking trails and country parks, it’s important to make sure we maintain and protect the environments that the animals of Hong Kong call home. Happy World Animal Day!
Written by Fion Tse