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BBR 2004
Sham Chung: a revisit
Big Fish Count 2004
Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden - Wildlife updates & sightings

Sham Chung: a revisit

by Ken Ching and Eric Chan

The 30-hectare Sham Chung was in the news again recently. There are speculations that Sham Chung, where half of the land is privately owned, will be developed into a golf course with resorts (Ming Pao 3.5.04, SCMP 3.5.04). Sham Chung once included a 9-hectare freshwater marsh, which was rated as a site with high conservation value (Dudgeon & Chan 1996). The ecological value of Sham Chung marsh started to deteriorate in 1999, when the developers began to drain water out from the marsh and then grew grasses after tillage. This is still legal as Sham Chung is not protected under any conservation ordinance, while draining water from the wetland and growing grasses (some people call this 'dry farming') do not violate the permitted land-use of 'agriculture' as stated in the Outline Zoning Plans. However, this damages the marsh and it will be easier for the developers to pass the EIA when development plans are proposed. Now, the major part of the Sham Chung marsh has turned into grassland which has a lower level of biodiversity than the original abandoned paddy field.

Recently, Civil Engineering Department has submitted a proposal for the reconstruction of Sham Chung Public Pier (www.ced.gov.hk/eng/generalinfo/tsd/pp_04_sc.pdf). The reconstruction will extend the size of the original pier. This may be a further step towards the development of Sham Chung.

Despite the degraded marsh, streams in Sham Chung are still home to various species of fishes at least six native freshwater fishes and five brackishwater species were found in a brief visit by us to Sham Chung. Three species of decapods were also spotted there. A brief survey focusing on birds, dragonflies and butterflies found that Sham Chung is now supporting a number of rare species (Table 1). It was a surprise to find a very rare raptor, the Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis, which was photographed in the woodland there (Fig. 1). Also, this woodland may support mammals and rare species of plants. Active conservation activities and increased public awareness are necessary for Hong Kong society to make the best choices for the future of Sham Chung.

Bibliography

Dudgeon, D. & Chan, E.W.C. (1996) Ecological Study of Freshwater Wetland Habitats in Hong Kong. Agriculture & Fisheries Department, Hong Kong Government.

Hau, B. (1999) Sham Chung conspiracy? Porcupine! 19: 28.

Table 1. Uncommon species of birds, dragonflies and butterflies in Sham Chung. Data from surveys by Ken Ching (until 13 June 2004)

 

Species

Bird

White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster

.

Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis

Dragonfly

Agriocnemis pygmaea

.

Pseudagrion microcephalum

.

Rhyothemis triangularis

Butterfly

Spindasis lohita

 

Fig. 1. A Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis photographed at Sham Chung (Photo by Ken Ching).

 

P.16-17
 
   

 

Porcupine!
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