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Saving Hong Kong's water buffaloes

Feral animals face a bleak future on Lantau island's rural southern fringe

Jean Leung Siu-wah inspects the wound where a dog had bitten this aging water buffalo, named Ngau Ngau, on his tail. (Photo by David Sutton)

HONG KONG -- I first met Jean Leung Siu-wah at a small pavilion on the bank of a river in the village of Ham Tin, on Hong Kong's Lantau Island, where the energetic 60-something property agent was taking me to see an apartment. At the time, though, she seemed more interested in talking about the water buffaloes in the wetlands between the main South Lantau Road and the village.

I saw her again some weeks later as she was overseeing the supper of a large and very old-looking buffalo. "This is Ngau Ngau," she told me. "He can't move around well with the other buffaloes, [so] I have to look after him." Ngau Ngau raised his head briefly to munch on a trail of sweet potato leaves hanging from his chin, and Leung took the opportunity to spray anti-parasite fluid into his eye.

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