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LCQ12: Management of wild monkeys
     Following is a question by the Hon Steven Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):


     Since 1999, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has prohibited under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) the feeding of wild animals such as wild monkeys by visitors. Furthermore, the AFCD has implemented a number of measures to contain the number of wild monkeys, including public education to remind visitors not to feed the monkeys, switching to use step-open rubbish bins in country parks to reduce the source of food of monkeys, and the implementation of a contraceptive/neutering programme for monkeys. Nonetheless, it is learnt that the number of incidents of monkeys attacking visitors and even trespassing on residential areas have been increasing in recent years, showing that the current policy and measures are ineffective.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the AFCD compiled statistics on the number of wild monkeys across the territory in each of the past three years; if so, of the figures and whether they have shown an upward trend; if they have, whether the AFCD has explored the reasons for that;

(2) of the respective numbers of complaints received in each of the past three years by the AFCD about wild monkeys attacking human beings and trespassing on residential areas;

(3) of the numbers of (i) patrols carried out and (ii) prosecutions instituted by the AFCD staff members in enforcing the ban on the feeding of wild monkeys as well as the number of persons convicted, in each of the past three years, and the penalties imposed on the convicted persons in general;

(4) of the number of the AFCD staff members deployed in the past three years to carry out the contraceptive/neutering programme for wild monkeys; whether the AFCD has assessed the effectiveness of the programme; if so, of the details;

(5) whether the AFCD will conduct a review on its efforts in (i) monitoring the number of wild monkeys, (ii) enforcing the ban on the feeding of wild monkeys and (iii) public education on the ban; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(6) whether the AFCD will consider inviting Mainland experts specialised in containing the propagation of wild monkeys to Hong Kong for giving assistance and recommending feasible solutions?



     Our response to the Hon Steven Ho's questions is consolidated as follows:

     Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks, part of Tai Mo Shan Country Park, Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, a section of Tai Po Road along Caldecott Road and Piper's Hill section of Tai Po Road are specified places under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) at which the feeding of any wild animals are prohibited. The implementation of feeding ban is intended to reduce the monkeys' reliance on human feeding, and to make the monkeys revert to foraging in the countryside on their own. Over the years, the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) has planted over 300 000 food plants for monkeys in the concerned country parks, including Strawberry Tree, Sliver-back Artocarpus, Hog Plum, Lingnan Garcinia and Myrobalan, so as to provide them with sufficient food sources in the wild, and to attract them revert to foraging and living out in the nature.

     According to the AFCD investigations, monkeys are straying into the residential areas in search of food, which are mainly habituated to human feeding or attracted by food debris in the refuse collection points. Therefore, in order to reduce the occurrence of monkeys in residential areas, the public should stop feeding animals, and should properly dispose of garbage. The AFCD has erected notice broads and displayed banners at the above specified feeding ban places and the main entrances of the concerned country parks to remind public not to feed wild or stray animals.

     In order to effectively deal with the nuisance caused by monkeys, the AFCD has deployed additional staff to step up patrol in the black spots that monkeys often occur. Upon receiving wild monkeys straying into residential areas, the AFCD would deploy staff to the scene as soon as possible to chase away or capture the monkeys found in residential areas, to investigate situations and causes of monkey occurrence, and to offer advice to the affected public or management offices, so as to abate and handle the monkey nuisance problems effectively. If necessary, the AFCD would contact other government departments to follow up the problems arising from monkey nuisance, such as environmental hygiene problems, etc. In addition, the AFCD will base on the monkey occurrence to set up animal traps to capture the lingering monkeys in residential areas so as to ameliorate the nuisance caused to the residents. In the past three years, the AFCD did not receive any cases of monkey attacking people, and the number of monkey nuisance cases received is as follows:
  2014 2015 2016
Number of monkey nuisance cases 437 cases 550 cases 447 cases

     Anyone contravening the feeding restriction is liable to a maximum fine of HK$10,000 upon conviction. The AFCD arranges regular patrol at the feeding ban area, and will take immediate prosecution actions against anyone who has fed monkeys or other wild animals. According to the latest situations, the AFCD would review the arrangement of feeding ban patrol, and will deploy additional staff to arrange enforcement actions at nights or during public holidays. In the past three years, the figures on the relevant enforcement actions taken against feeding of wild animals are as follows:
  2014 2015 2016
Patrol Frequency 797 times 1 342 times 1 031 times
Number of prosecuted cases 67 cases 66 cases 72 cases
Number of convicted cases 65 cases 60 cases 45 cases *
Penalty / Average per case
(Range of penalty)
*Among the prosecuted cases in 2016, 25 cases are pending for trial.

     Since 2007, the AFCD has regularly arranged monkey contraceptive/neutering operations for monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks. In each operation, about 10 staff members would be involved. The AFCD will also monitor the changes in monkey populations so as to control their number in the long run. According to the population monitoring, the birth rate of monkeys in Kam Shan, Lion Rock and Shing Mun Country Parks has decreased from about 78 per cent in 2008 to about 35 per cent in recent years. The total number of monkeys has dropped by more than 23 per cent in the past eight years, and has maintained at about 1 650 only in the past three years. The AFCD will continue to monitor the changes of monkey populations, and will perform neutering treatments for more monkeys.

     From time to time, the AFCD reviews its work on the management of monkeys. In order to abate monkey nuisance in a more efficient way, the AFCD is now reviewing the work of handling monkey nuisance and will invite wildlife conservation experts from various places to offer necessary assistance, with a view to developing a more comprehensive management plan for monkeys.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:30
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