Sunday, 25 March 2018

Porcupines in Hong Kong: Letters to the South China Morning Post in 1930

Further to my previous post on our night safari to see porcupines in Hong Kong, these are letters on the subject I found in the South China Morning Post of 21 November 1930.

(To the Editor. S. C. M Post.) 
Sir,—In reply to the query by "A.B.". I hasten to assure him (or her) that porcupines are definitely among the native mammals of Hongkong island. Whether they are descendants of escaped animals brought from the mainland may be open to discussion but as long ago (or as recently) as 1927 it was established that they were breeding in the Shek-O neighbourhood, when one of them, in crossing the road, was run into by a motor-car.
     Late in 1928, while exploring the neighbourhood of the hillside above Tytam Tuk with a companion, we found definite traces of porcupines there.

Sir,—In this morning's (Thursday's) issue of your paper "A.B.' mentions that he had seen, last week, a large porcupine on High West and asks whether these animals are natives of the Colony.
     Porcupines are native here and may occasionally be seen on the Peak, at Shekko, or in the New Territories.
     About 10 days ago, I purchased a porcupine which had been caught at Sha Tin; the animal had been raiding sweet-potato plantations and an all night watch had been set for it on three successive nights before its capture. This porcupine was a large healthy fellow but many of its quills had been shed, possibly during the excitement of its capture. Unfortunately, it escaped after only one night's sojourn in the University, and, after consuming various flowers and digging sundry holes, made off up the hillside.. Possibly, the fellow seen by “A.B.” is my porcupine.
     If anyone else sees "Fido," will they please treat the animal kindly, put some salt on his or her tail and lead him or her gently back to the University.
G. A. C. Herklots.
Herklots’s battles with porcupines raiding his garden in Pokfulam in 1947 were described in his The Hong Kong Countryside published in 1951, together with the problems caused by the quills removed from his garden raiders after their extermination:
The quills, distributed by my small daughter to her friends at school, proved popular at first but alas, the small boys finding from experience that they were very sharp used them with good effect on the small girls to their pain and discomfiture. Evidently porcupine quills should not be distributed in a co-educational school. D[epartment] of E[ducation] please note and instruct heads accordingly…

Malayan Porcupine in Hong Kong                                                                                                        [AJP Photo