Feral family of boars hog limelight in HK business district with swim in Bank of China Tower pool

28-Sep-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

White-collar workers in Hong Kong’s Central business district were shocked by the sight of a family of wild boars on Thursday as they went for a swim in a pool outside a bank.

Footage of the scene shows the family of five led by an elder with four small young ones in tow swimming in the Bank of China Tower’s pool, their snouts and ears poking above the water.

Shouts of “be careful” and “poor thing” in Cantonese could be heard emanating from staff in footage taken from inside the bank as they saw the biggest boar slip and fall on a concrete slope near the pool.

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Messages swirling on social media apps placed the group in Hong Kong Park earlier. The family then took a nine-minute walk downhill and crossed the bank’s driveways before deciding to take a dip in the pool.

A police spokesman said when officers arrived at the scene at about 5pm, only the largest boar was still present. The animal then returned to the wooded hillside area shortly after the arrival of staff from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). No one was injured.

Wild boars, known as adept swimmers, have increasingly been seen venturing out of the woods and into Hong Kong’s urban areas in recent years, ending up in residential buildings, shopping centres and even the airport. Some have also wandered into barbecue areas in country parks in search for food.

But not all encounters with the rogue animals are peaceful.

In October 2018, two elderly Hongkongers were sent to hospital after being rammed and bitten by a boar at a public housing estate in Diamond Hill.

In July the same year, a 39-year-old woman was attacked by a boar near an exit of the MTR’s HKU station, while another woman reported that her husband had been injured by a wild pig on nearby Babington Path. The University of Hong Kong issued a warning to staff and students to be on the lookout for boars.

The problem was even brought to the attention of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor during a Legislative Council meeting last year.

After a review of potential strategies, the AFCD came up with a multipronged pilot scheme to manage the boar situation, including stepped up intervention by its staff, better management of potential food sources such as rubbish bins, and educating the public against feeding wild animals.

As of March last year, 166 wild pigs were captured, and 121 of them were relocated to remote countryside areas.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the AFCD also upped the number of staff members responsible for managing the city’s wild pigs from six to 26.

The AFCD mentioned on its website that, in general, wild boars were secretive and wary of human contact. However, if provoked or threatened, they could become aggressive and attack humans, particularly dominant males or sows with piglets.

The department also reminded the public not to approach any wild pig, including piglets, and not to feed or provoke them if encountered on the street. People should hide behind barriers and wait until the animals have left.

Dr Gary Ades, head of the fauna conservation department at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden in Tai Po, said the incident clearly involved a mother boar and her offspring, and that they could have been searching for food on the hillside above Central before becoming trapped in the urban surroundings.

“The poor urban design close to the forested areas of Hong Kong often causes wild animals like boars to get confused and unable to return to the forest because of fences, walls and property that has no animal friendly design,” he said. “Boars start to panic when there are a lot of people around and get even more confused.”

He added that the public had facilitated an increase in boar numbers through feeding of the animals, but also noted that increased development near Hong Kong’s green areas meant there were bound to be conflicts between humans and wild animals.



Category: Hong Kong

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