Wildlife Welfare in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is home to over 7 million people, some of the tallest buildings in the world, the world’s most densely populated urban areas and it is often described as a concrete jungle. But it is a city of contrasts, and many that live here have discovered that Hong Kong is home to a diverse array of wildlife species and beautiful countryside.
More than 500 species of birds have been recorded across the territory, from large and powerful Eagles to tiny, colourful flowerpeckers.
There are large mammals such as wild boar and muntjac deer, as well as leopard cats, civet cats, porcupines, many species of bats and even strange ant-eaters called pangolins.
Reptile and amphibian life also thrives here with over 100 species combined. Of these, more than 50 are snakes including the common rat snake, the Burmese python and the Chinese cobra. Many species of lizards can be found including the crested tree lizard, the long-tailed skink and the blue-tailed skink, and frogs such as the Asiatic painted frog can be heard calling after heavy rain in the summer.
The sub-tropical conditions support a diverse invertebrate life that includes many hundreds of species of butterflies and moths, spiders such as the large golden silk orb-weaver and a varied plant life of well over 3,000 species.
Wildlife Welfare Concerns
When people think of wildlife they think of conservation – the preservation of the natural environment and the species that live there. However, there are animal welfare concerns related to wild animals suffering unnecessarily. The wild environment, and the need for survival, means that there is natural suffering – predators catch and kill their prey, and many will not find sufficient food in the competition for resources. This is all part of nature but many animals are adversely affected by humans, particularly where mankind and nature interact most.
It is these welfare concerns that fall under the remit of the SPCA and our goal to prevent unnecessary suffering. Typical examples include casualties of pollution, population/pest control programmes, hunting and trapping techniques, trade of live wildlife, conditions in zoological collections and farming of wildlife.
The Difference Between Welfare and Conservation
It is important to understand the difference between wildlife conservation and wildlife welfare. The easiest way to think of it is to consider that wildlife conservation is concerned with entire species, whereas wildlife welfare is concerned with individual animals. A good example of the two approaches is Sharkfin soup – the conservation concern is the catching of endangered species that may lead to their extinction, whereas the welfare concern is the manner in which sharks sometimes have their fins cut off while still alive, causing unnecessary suffering.
Concerns in Hong Kong
In Hong Kong we are particularly concerned about the following wildlife welfare issues:
- Population management of certain species
- Injured wildlife
- Illegal trapping
- Trade of wildlife for food and medicine
- Trade of wildlife for pets
- Improper release of wildlife