There are estimated to be about 1,100 wild cows roaming the streets of Hong Kong. That’s according to the territory’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, who recently published a report acknowledging the difficulties of “ensuring that they coexist with local residents in harmony.” For the most part, the feral cattle are tolerated so as long as they don’t disrupt traffic, shit on the streets, or help themselves to fruit and vegetables in supermarkets.
But earlier this month, four cows shattered that peace agreement when they stormed the aisles of a local supermarket and raided the fresh produce section. Local newspaper Ming Pao reported that the wild animals entered the Fusion grocery store in Mui Wo at about 8 PM, headed straight for the fruit and vegetable shelves, and treating themselves to a feast. Footage posted to Facebook shows shoppers standing around awkwardly as the invaders ate up the supermarket’s supply of greens. Eventually, staff and store patrons managed to corral the cattle out of the store.
District Councillor Andy Wong Man-hon told Ming Pao that there are about 30 wild cows in Mui Wo, but this was the first time he’d heard of one breaking into a shop. He’s concerned it could happen again, though, given how often people feed fruit to the animals.
Last year, the South China Morning Post published an article about Hong Kong’s “long-standing” feral cow problem, pointing out that their rampancy in the territory is a result of rapid urban expansion and development that sprawled out into the surrounding countryside and forced various species of wildlife to wander into populated communities. Ho Loy, chairwoman of the Lantau Buffalo Association, these feral cows are now just roaming and grazing in the same areas they always have—even when faced with the drastic changes of radical urbanisation and shrinking grassland habitats.
“Lots of people think it’s annoying to have these cows roaming onto traffic roads,” said Ho. “But they don’t understand that these sites were where the cows and their predecessors used to eat and live before the landscapes were covered with cement and turned into city roads.”
A spokesperson for the company that owns the Fusion grocery store told Coconuts that all the produce was destroyed after the cow raid, and the shelves were thoroughly cleaned.
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