Thursday, 30 May 2013

Tigers in Hong Kong: More Information

In a brilliant book, Southern District Officer Reports. Islands and Villages in Rural Hong Kong, 1910-1960 (edited by John Strickland, Hong Kong University Press, 2010), I came across this extract (pages 13-14) from Hong Kong: Around and About written by S.H. Peplow and M .Barker published, it appears, in 1931. Peplow was land bailiff in 1927 and district officer in 1930 for the Southern District of the New Territories:

Tigers. There are well authenticated cases in which tigers have visited portions of the New Territory and even the Island of Hong Kong. Two tigers were knifed by Chinese in a cave in the hills near Sham Shui Po. Cattle have been killed in large numbers, especially on Lantao Island, where some 60 or 70 were killed during 1911, apparently by some beast with claws and tracks similar to a tiger or panther. It was reported by one native living in a hut on Lantao that a tiger was seen by him dragging a chain, and it is not impossible that the beast in question might be a tiger escaped from a local menagerie. It would live mostly on deer, but occasionally pounce on isolated herds of cattle; nor is there any reason to doubt that it could swim over from one island to another. In one case in May 1931, a number of cattle had been killed in the south of Lantao, and the remainder of the herd, thirty in number, were sent over for safety to a small island half a mile away; but within two days 16 of them had been killed or badly wounded. An expedition went out there three days later, but by that time the beast had probably returned to the thick cover afforded by the Lantao hills. It was said to have been seen again early in 1912, both on Hong Kong Island and Lantao.