Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Where in the world do cows and traffic mix? CNN cameraman Brad Olson captures the surprise guests wandering around his home on Hong Kong's Lantau Island: cows!
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Outside of Hong Kong's densely-populated urban core, there are many green spaces.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Until the 1980s, there were many small-scale farms in Lantau's hills and valleys. Now, this is one of the few hill farms that is still being cultivated.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – As former rice paddies and fields were abandoned, so were the farm animals that once were part of agricultural life. In this valley, there are about 12 head of cattle and five water buffalo-- the remnants of a herd that numbered around 200 during farming's heyday.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Known as Southern China Yellow cattle, they were used for working the hill fields. Being highly resistant to heat and disease, they are well-suited to Hong Kong's subtropical climate.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Once highly valued, cows are now considered a nuisance by many locals who complain they are unhygienic and reduce property values. They often get into vegetable gardens and cause damage.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – The few remaining farmers don't have much patience for them. This farmer drove the cattle away from his field by tossing rocks in their general direction.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Some locals don't mind them at all, seeing cattle as an important link to the area's agricultural past. They are quite tame and are a big hit with weekend tourists who photograph them.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – In 2011, a man was attacked by a water buffalo bull at a nearby beach. In the aftermath, orders were issued to "remove" all the animals, and three of them were shot. Local activists argued that it was not the fault of the cattle and that they were an important part of the community.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Ho Loi of the Green Lantau Association is one of the activists who helps protect the herd. She says the group works with the government to control herd size and provide vet services to sick or injured animals. Recently, the government agreed that they could stay but the herd could not grow in size.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – Loi says they play an important role in the environment by keeping abandoned fields from becoming overgrown with weeds. Nowadays, the herd keeps a low profile and its quite rare to see them all together. Their wetland habitat is steadily being encroached upon and they have a hard time finding a spot for a good wallow.
Hong Kong's Wild Cows – There is also talk of hiring a herder to keep cattles out of traffic and private gardens!