Boarish behaviour


Most hikers in Hong Kong can tell that the population of wild boars is growing. In fact, the feral beasts have been extending their territory from the country parks into urban areas like Causeway Bay. Adult boars can weigh up to 200 kilogrammes, with a body length of up to two metres (in a widely viewed video clip last year, a huge one – soon nicknamed Godzilla – was filmed with his snout in an urban rubbish bin). There is a growing number of cases in which wild pigs foraging for food are straying into residential areas and dangerously confronting pedestrians.

Two years ago the government changed the orders of the teams it deployed to keep boar numbers down. Instead of hunting them a birth control scheme was introduced but it has been a challenge to catch the animals and inject them with contraceptives. The problem prompted an audacious question from a Hong Kong lawmaker during a legislative council meeting this month. “Will the government reintroduce the hunting team or use alternative methods such as introducing natural predators to Hong Kong?” asked Kenneth Lau, representing the rural constituency of Heung Yee Kuk.

Given that only large carnivores such as lions and tigers sit above boars in the food chain, Lau’s half-hearted remark provoked widespread mockery. It also prompted another suggestion from a columnist in the Apple Daily. The most obvious choice of natural predators, he proposed, was mainland tourists: the government should introduce safaris for them to hunt the boars and eat them afterwards.

Not that anyone in the government has taken either proposal seriously. Instead they are taking a more mundane approach, calling for the public, including mainland Chinese tourists, not to feed the animals. Denying the boars’ food, the government believes, is the most effective way in limiting their escalating population for the time being.

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