The buffalo chase in Pui O today in which three children were hospitalised and seven others were injured, was just “part of the natural world” says conservationist Jean Hui, a long-time Lantau resident who has studied the herd behaviour.
Hui says the incident was very unlucky, and that the children were in the “wrong place at the wrong time”.
“If it happens a little earlier or later, the children have a big area to run away. Only on this part of the road, it’s too narrow, it’s unlucky the buffalo went there.”
Hui says a buffalo fight started when the old “king” of the herd returned. “The old king had gone to Mui Wo, he’d been there four months already. So after that his son became king. But he came back.”
“When the son saw him again, he chased him, and the old king ran away.”
This was the chase which caused chaos during the Pui O rush hour this morning, as the buffaloes cantered along the road and onto a crowded pavement.
One girl, 8, was knocked unconscious by one of the buffaloes, while the other two hospitalised children were injured in the ensuing escape: one with chest injuries and another with injured hands and face.
The unconscious girl regained consciousness and has now been discharged from hospital, while two boys are still in hospital but stable, according to the Hospital Authority. All others injured declined hospital treatment.
Hui says the government has done nothing about the lost buffalo habitats. “The area for them now is very small. They have not much home to stay. AFCD [Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department] do nothing, they are just sleeping.”
“People ask me, why the buffalo fighting? I say, bird fighting, worm fighting, dog fighting, people fighting, it is the natural world. Buffalo fighting, only they are a bit big,” she says.
“This is very natural if you live in Lantau. You may know, buffalo very happy to stay on the beach, very happy to stay in the grass, sometimes fighting – this is the natural world.”
The older buffalo, the former king of the herd, has since returned to Mui Wo, says Hui, while AFCD says it has plans to castrate the younger bull to make him less aggressive.