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"In the News" (pdf)

By Jacqueline Weir and Jasmine Ng

International News
China News
Hong Kong News


A four-year-old alligator named Mr. Cranky Pants was stolen from a reptile park near Sydney, Australia. However thieves let the bad-tempered animal go in a nearby creek, where he was recovered and returned to the park. (SCMP 13.4.04)

A 5.5-metre great white shark struck a small boat near New Plymouth in New Zealand and ate a fish that had been caught a line-fisherman on the boat. No-one was injured in the incident. (SCMP 24.4.04)

US President George Bush came under fire from Senator John Kerry over his environmental record. Mr. Bush announced a new goal of expanding America’s wetlands by 1.2 million hectares in the next five years. Senator Kerry said that Bush had initially backed proposals that would have lost 8 million hectares. He also said that Bush had undermined enforcement of clean air laws, resisted controls of mercury emissions and pulled out of international environmental agreements. (SCMP 24.4.04)

At least 6 suspected illegal loggers were mauled by tigers, and two killed, in Sumatra, Indonesia, in the last month. Attacks by tigers on humans have increased in Indonesia as un-checked illegal logging is destroying vast areas of their habitat. (SCMP 13.5.04)

The London-based Environmental Justice Foundation has highlighted the need for foreign retailers and governments to pressurise Asian shrimp farmers into using more sustainable methods. It pointed out that despite the commonly held view that shrimp farming would reduce pressure on natural stocks, environmental damage is caused by destruction of mangrove forests, trawling for young shrimp, and build-up of dangerous chemicals used by shrimp farmers. (SCMP 20.5.04)

Local authorities may ban smoking on Bondi Beach in Australia, citing passive smoking and litter problems as the reasons. It is estimated that 700 000 cigarette butts are hidden in the sand of the beach at any one time. (SCMP 20.5.04)


A department store company in Shenzhen was fined 5 000 yuan for failing to apply for approval from provincial authorities to sell Harp seal meat. Approval is required to import foreign endangered species, although Harp seals are bred in and exported from Canada legally. (China Daily 13.2.04)

Over-grazing in Zhongdian county of Yunnan Province, the area now known as Shangri-La, is causing degradation of meadows, contributing to rapid spread of an invasive plant known as 'langdu' of the Euphorbia family. The plant flourishes in degraded areas and makes it difficult for meadow plants to recover, so increased degradation further. The area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. (China Daily 13.2.04)

The Green Volunteer League of Chongqing, founded by a former PLA soldier, is fighting a running battle with government officials and factory owners over old and polluting industrial plants. It claims that the recent chlorine gas leak at Tianyuan Chemical Industry Plant was an accident waiting to happen. Some plants are being relocated in Chingqing but there are worries that this will simply move the problem to poorer, more rural areas. (SCMP 26.4.04 )

A large growth of green algae along the coast of Sanya, Hainan, has been preventing visitors from swimming. However the algae is not regarded as harmful to the environment. (China Daily 18.5.04)


The installation of desulphurisation devices to Guangdong’s biggest cluster of power plants is anticipated to first improve Hong Kong’s air quality by the end of the year. Significant improvements should be achieved by 2007 when all oil-fired and coal-fired power plants with a capacity over 125 megawatts in Guangdong are installed with such devices. Although Guangdong generated 80 % of the air pollution and Hong Kong only accounted for the remaining 20 %, the government has started to persuade CLP Power and Hongkong Electric to reduce emission. (SCMP 24.2.04)

A study on reef fish trade by nine independent marine scientists has shown that such trade is unsustainable and could damage coral reefs and fish communities. To meet the market demand not only a larger volume of fish is harvested; fishing has also extended far into the Pacific and Indian oceans since previous fishing grounds are depleted. Authors of the study urged the Hong Kong government to educate consumers not to choose species that are threatened and turn to farmed fish (ie. Hatchery-reared). (SCMP 1.3.04)

307 India Star tortoises wrapped in newspapers and clothes were found in two unclaimed suitcases of passengers at Chek Lap Kok airport. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the reptiles would probably be supplied to local pet shops. (SCMP 4.3.04)

Profits on compact discs of a 'green' second-hand book and CD shop have gone down since the spread of music and visual entertainment piracy. Book stock is being increased instead. The shop, ‘Flow’, was set up with the vision of reducing waste and targeting Hong Kong’s disposable culture. (SCMP 21.3.04)

Unlicensed glass-bottom boats were found operating in the Hoi Ha Marine Park, which raised safety concerns for coral-watching tourists in the area. While the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department could not do anything to stop such operators as long as they did not violate the marine park regulations, a spokesman of the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong urged the government to enforce both safety and conservation measures to protect the fragile environment. (SCMP 29.3.04)

The Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society is planning a skin sample study for the Chinese white dolphin in Hong Kong. A dart-like device which extracts a small amount of skin tissue is shot towards a swimming dolphin, and such biopsies should reveal the sex, feeding habits, levels of contaminants in the dolphin and its genetic relationship to other dolphins in the region. The study is anticipated to commence by the end of the year. (SCMP 8.4.04)

A joint study by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Chinese University of Hong Kong revealed a total of 84 hard coral species in Hong Kong waters, of which 65 species can be found in Tung Ping Chau. (Oriental Daily 13.4.04)

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department officers have been satellite tracking one green turtle per year from Sham Wan beach on southern Lamma, where they nest, since 2000. This year more may be tracked, depending on how many come to the beach. A WWF officer called for the Sham Wan area – which is currently protected between June and October – to be upgraded to a marine park. The species faces threats from increasing pollution and marine traffic. (SCMP 13.4.04)

10 new bird species have been recorded in Hong Kong over the last 3 years, giving a total of 465 confirmed bird species in Hong Kong. (SCMP 19.4.04)

Members of the Green Lantau Association and other Lantau environmental groups are worried about the impact on the island of a proposed super-prison on Hei Ling Chau Island, that would be linked to Lantau by a complex road and bridge network. Lantau's green organisations have numerous ideas for developing eco-tourism facilities and scenic improvements to the island, but complain they are not consulted about government plans until they are already finalised. (SCMP 26.4.04)

Ocean Park has asked the Home Affairs Bureau for help to secure a gift of two baby pandas from the mainand. The pandas donated to Hong Kong by Beijing after the handover are reaching old-age (26 and 17) and have not bred. (SCMP 26.4.04)

A city-wide signature campaign called 'Stop Greed and Waste' is being launched by the Hong Kong People's Council for Sustainable Development and the Conservancy Association, to ask New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties to abandon a plan to tear down the Hunghom Peninsula. The new residential estate was built for the government but left unsold to help stabilise property prices. It has been bought back by the developers, who plan to demolish it. (SCMP 26.4.04)

Another Lantau stream, the Ngong Ping stream, is channelized for MTRC's cable car development. The diversion destructed 101 trees in the Lantau country park, and the Democratic Party has urged the government to introduce a bill to protect natural streams from development. (SCMP 29.4.04)

The restricted area on the border is a sanctuary for a significant number of valuable species of plants and animals, according to a study done by the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden. While the development of the area seems inevitable, the executive director of the Kadoorie Farm, Manab Chakraborty, hopes that thorough ecological assessment can be done prior to the development to minimize the impact on the species in the area, recommending different measures to protect selected regions within the area for conservation. (SCMP 8.5.04)

A wild boar has been roaming a slope at a public housing estate in Lai King. One resident claims to have seen it eating a puppy. An AFCD spokesman said there were no plans to catch the boar unless it posed a threat to residents. (SCMP 20.5.04)

A male rough-toothed dolphin was found stranded on Lamma Island. These dolphins are not commonly found in this region, but mainly in equatorial waters close to the Philippines. In the last year other unusual beachings have included a sperm whale, Bryde's whale and false killer whales. It is possible that changes in the climate and ocean currents are to blame.(SCMP 20.5.04)

Local schools held a one-day 'No Air-conditioning Day' campaign, organised by Footprint, a non-profit local environmental group. The hope was to raise awareness of the impact of air-conditioning on global warming. (SCMP 22.5.04)

To conserve stocks and promote sustainable development of the fishing industry, the annual temporary fishing ban in the South China Sea, which lasts from 1 June to 1 August every year, is going to affect ~ 1400 local fishing vessels this year. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has offered low-interest loans and training courses to help alleviate its negative effect on the livelihood of fishermen. Fish prices are expected to rise up to 10 % as a result of the ban. (SCMP 1.6.04)

An international study on the endangered Napoleon Humphead Wrasse by scientists from Hong Kong, Senegal, France, Papua New Guinea and the United States has concluded the species is disappearing, possibly due to the strong market demand. Dr Yvonne Sadovy, a co-author of the study and the chairperson of the World Wide Fund for Nature Hong Kong's conservation projects committee, said that the species is biologically and naturally vulnerable to heavy fishing pressure, and with a population that is slow to replenish more young fish are now being marketed. The group proposed to regulate the international trade of the fish, but such proposal is not welcomed by fish traders. (SCMP 21.6.04)




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