Illegal Feeding

Illegal Feeding

Asking AFCD to deploy more patrolling force to stop illegal feeding

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8 min read

AFCD notice from AFCD website

I received response of an FOI request to AFCD, about illegal feeding (public notice) and wildlife attack in Hong Kong.

Among the 42 complaints of illegal feeding in 2022, 90% are related with Kam Shan Country Park (another 3 in Shing Mun and 1 in Lion Rock). Apparently, this is the place that needs more patrolling force. Since AFCD received on average 3 reports every month, the issue should be well under their radar.

In reality, the patrolling is very weak. Given the first three weeks of 2023 as an example:

  • My friend had a HK100 Flex on Jan 14, 2023. My friend witnessed four vehicles, feeding the monkeys. The food also attracted nearby wild dogs.
  • I had a recce of the second half acrossing Kam Shan at 7:13pm, on Jan 7, 2023. We did not witness live feeding, but saw bread pieces every where. The monkeys and wild dogs were very active sitting or eating in the middle of the road. There were no attack, but the scene was intimidating.
  • I had another pass of Kam Shan at 8:06pm Jan 21, during my DNF HK100 Flex. The area was generally quiet. No monkeys. A few wild dogs tried to tail me, but were shouted off. There were bread pieces on the road. I suspect they were there for food.

Given the density of how the "random sample" of runners witnessed illegal feeding or signs of illegal feeding, we could conclude that this area is very much in need of more solid patrolling force.

Based on the benefit of doubt, we could have the conjecture that AFCD deployed some patrollilng force. Maybe the patrolling force does not have enough frequency or date range coverage, or time range coverage (i.e. apparently there were probabilistically little patrolling at evening time 7-8pm as we caught the scene three times in three weeks). Also understand the the department can not disclose patrolling schedule, to not encourage illegal feeders find the blind spot.

In sum, I will route the above information to AFCD again via tellme@1823.gov.hk and ask for more patrolling force.

Interested readers can find following two letters, to further understand my motivation of this FOI request to give one more push. The AFCD response on Jan 20 only mentioned "what should be the case", instead of addressing:

  • Whether there are enough patrolling. (from above data, No).
  • Whether the department deployed more patrolling. (after Jan 20 v.s. before).

Illegal feeding coverage

From the latest (as of Feb 2023) notice:

Enforcement action will follow should the person concerned continue the illegal action. Starting from January 14, 2023, no prior warnings will be given and enforcement action will be taken by AFCD staff should anyone be found feeding any wild animal illegally at any place in Hong Kong.

My letter on Jan 15

My letter to AFCD via 1823 on Jan 15:

Hi 1823,

A fellow runner doing HK100 saw 4 vehicles feeding animals at Kowloon Reservoir / Golden Hill. The concerned location is roughly below:

22.353732, 114.1523051 MacLehose Trail M117

The overgrown monkeys, wild dogs and boars put runner/ hikers at very high risk. It will be highly appreciated to deploy solid patrolling force to prevent illegal feeding, especially during coming week’s nights when there are major races in HK, eg HK100, Oxfam Trail Walker, Four Trails, to name a few.

Hope those world class events can put Hong Kong on the world map again with “world’s safest city”.

Look forward to your response.

AFCD response on Jan 20

AFCD response on Jan 20 to Jan 15 letter:

Thank you for your email. The places at which the feeding of any wild animal is prohibited (Feeding Ban Area) under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) (the Ordinance) has expanded to the entire territory of Hong Kong from 31 December 2022 with a view to curbing wild animal (in particular wild pig) feeding activities, thereby reducing the nuisance caused by them to the public. In accordance with the Ordinance, any person illegally feeding any wild animal in the Feeding Ban Area will be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 upon conviction. Enforcement of feeding ban on wild animals in Country Parks has been undertaken by this Department. You may wish to note that large notice boards or warning signs have been installed at wild animal feeding black spots in Country Parks to remind visitors not to feed wild animal. The AFCD arranges regular patrol at the feeding black spots and will take immediate prosecution actions against anyone who has fed monkeys or other wild animals. Fauna Conservation Division Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department

Code of Access to Information.

I submitted the initial request on Jan 15, and received final feedback on Feb 3. Although the formatting can be improved to be more like a "dataset", the general experience with AFCD ('s access to information request) is pretty satisfying. Following information may be useful to the readers in the future.

For more of Code of Access to Information, refer to: https://www.access.gov.hk/en/home/index.html

Bookmark this site to make your future FOI request easier and hold each each deparment accountable by making an Internet archive of the correspondences: https://accessinfo.hk/

Note your right and HK Gov's obligations with following key points: (Ref: guidelines)

  • They shall give an interim reply within 10 days. In my experience, even if someone wishes to fool around, you can usually get the interim reply; or it is a breach of process.
  • They shall give you the requested data within 21 days. Note that this is a target, so they are not obliged to do so. You can request an internal review, which brings the case to seniors, but note that normally they avoid embarrasing within the system.
  • 51 day is the maximum response time.
  • They could require a payment to proceed. This is usually B**it. Often the times, the requested were already in certain database, but the provider requires payment to prepare the hardcopy. We can not do much to this type of behaviour. Having a public record of how each deparment behaves is helpful for the community.
  • When they reject an FOI request, they shall give a reason of refusal.

Among 44.9K FOI requests from 1995 to 2014, 14% requests were not met. Among those, 51% were due to "Information not held"; In 2012-2014, refusal due to privacy arose to 16%. [LU 2016][1]

Exerpt of Other Complaints

I had an FB post asking people's opinion about monkeys and wild dogs at Kam Shan. Some were annoyed by the monkeys at Kam Shan; some were fine. Here are some stories copied verbatim:

Kenneth:

When I was running there, those uncivilized ppl went there with their cars with food and they threw the food out of their cars for multiple times... Also their kids sat in the car and looked very happy when they saw monkeys eating...

Michelle:

I passed one of these cars and the area was crawling with boars and monkeys. We had to bang on the railings even to pass by. It was pretty scary

Steve:

For years I took tourists through there. Never had a problem apart from one time a pair did a neat trick of stealing an ice cream at Shing Mun bbq site. They have been there longer then you have been alive so they wont be going anywhere. There are also monkeys and boars in Sai Kung, Lion Rock and Tai Mo Shan. Dont stare at them, dont wave food around and dont rummage in your bag.

Dennis:

Since last 6 years, I have been going there with a group of 4-5 people at different times during the day and night - I DID NOT have any encounters If they don’t see you with food or drinks, they just ignore you You pass them without exhibiting apparent fear or anxiety, of course being aware of their presence

Michelle:

On a hike I saw an old woman with bags of food feeding the monkeys. They came up to her and took the bread from her hand. She scolded them like they were her grandchildren for not having manners. When I left there were a gaggle of monkeys swarming her. One day, it will turn tragic

Eric:

Several years ago, during Sowers Trail Marathon 42K race, me and teammates were bothered by monkeys and wild pigs, with seeing one mid aged woman feeding wild pigs.

There were many complaints directly to the department or indirectly on the Internet. Here are a few other exerpts.

Complaint of Eva in Aug 2020: ref

The unauthorized monkey feeding in Golden Hill Road is getting more and more serious, I believe there are some cars come feed the monkey on a daily basis. I tried filing a complaint to AFCD with photos of car plate no. last year but ADCF didn't seem to follow up on this.\ 1823 says they now only focus on handling COVID related enquiry, is there any department/ organization/ someone i can file a complaint to?

Also note some positive feedback from AFCD based on Jenny: ref

Believe it or not, I had a call from AFCD today! They said they are going to step up their patrols and do joint operations with the police. I asked them what enforcement actions they will be taking and they said issuing on-spot fines. I asked how many of those had been given out in the past year and they said they weren’t allowed to reveal that information.

Information for Runners

  • Passing the area after 8pm seems to be fine as monkeys go to rest
  • Have poles and good lights just in case
  • Do not show food and seal backpacks
  • Note the risk of taking out phone to photograph the illegal feeder's cars -- monkeys reportedly grabbed visitor's phone in the past.

[1]: LU Wen, 2016, The Risks of Non-open Government: How the absence of FOI legislation has weakened Hong Kong media practice

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