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Dolphins and Other Creatures
IVU News 2-97

The waters around Hong Kong were once filled with turtles, whale sharks, multicoloured corals and reef fish, writes Chris Parsons of the Dolphin Research Group, but today only a few hardy souls manage to survive in the soup of industrial waste and raw sewage. The unique population of Chinese white dolphins which are actually pink is now down to about 100 due to pollution, shipping, nylon fishing nets and destruction of habitat. A further enormous threat is the new airport and the huge increase in noise and general disturbance from shipping and other activities, as dolphins rely on echo-location to find food, attract mates and keep their calves from harm. Urgent action is needed before the dolphins, which have swum in these waters for thousands of years, finally become extinct. A last ditch attempt to save them has resulted in a small conservation area, though this may prove too little and too late.

photoMeanwhile, Dolphinwatch takes groups of green activists, handicapped children and others on non-disruptive boat trips to see these beautiful creatures and to bring their plight to the attention of the authorities. Dolphinwatch has launched a letter writing campaign and the Marine Conservation Society has published a book for the young of all ages up to 110 called Pinky the Dolphin and the Power that May Be in which a small girl is transformed into a pink dolphin and learns of the past, present and possible future of these beautiful creatures.

In the west, public opinion is turning strongly against dolphinariums, but in the east they are still regarded as a good source of entertainment and revenue. To celebrate the handover of Macau to China in 1999, a private company plans to build a marine park with displays of marine life including dolphins. This has provoked widespread protest, but at present still seems set to go ahead. [Write to Mr Jose W.C.Cheong, President, The Chong Wa Entertainment Company, Avenida Da Praia Grande 75-81, 3rd Floor, Edificio Ven Fai, Macau, expressing distaste at the use of captive marine animals and stressing the financial risks of going against the world-wide trend of disapproval of such spectacles. Send copies to The Governor of Macau, Leal Senado de Macau, to Mr Lu Ping, Director, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Beijing, China, and if possible also to Dolphinwatch or by email to [A letter in Portuguese and/or Chinese will carry even more weight if anyone can manage that!]

Almost all known varieties of shark, too, are being killed or starved out of their habitat. It is estimated that in Hong Kong alone more than 2,500 tonnes of sharks fin are consumed every year. Many are killed simply for their fins, which are sliced off and the shark dumped back into the sea to die a cruel and lingering death. Sharks and sea turtles all thrived before the dinosaurs and some have longer lifespans than humans; yet they may disappear from the planet within a couple of years unless something is done to curb the excesses of human ignorance and greed.

The Produce Green Foundation

This consists of two farms, one devoted to commercial production and plot rental, the other to education and an eco-park. Family activities such as rice planting, paper making and breadmaking are organised, as well as courses in organic farming, completion of which entitles participants to rent a plot. Both farms sell organic produce and are open to the public on Sundays, and at other times by arrangement.

The Green People Show

This new radio show goes on air for an hour every Monday evening, supported by the Environment and Conservation Fund and jointly produced by Radio Television Hong Kong and the Produce Green Foundation. Chaired by the indefatigable and seemingly ubiquitous Simon Chau, the first part of the programme deals with the personal angle, such as supermarkets, fast food outlets, green travel and household and holiday information, while the second looks at broader social issues and brings in guest speakers such as politicians, green leaders and academics. Listeners are invited to phone in their views and to give details of green activities to be announced on air. The programme reaches listeners in Hong Kong and the southern part of China.


Guide to Green Living in Hong Kong

Published by SAFE Safe Alternatives for Food and Environment the guide contains details of where and what to buy in terms of green goods and services as a well as a directory of green groups and their aims. As a basis on which to seek out the green people in Hong Kong, the guide proved invaluable and led to many interesting encounters and hopefully a number of new friends. A particular highlight was the small Buddhist café on the 27th floor of the Wing Shan Tower in downtown Hong Kong and its charming assistant manager Cecilia Fan. The café also has a library, roof garden and meditation rooms. I was only sorry not to have time to visit the organic farms, humane education centres and wildlife sanctuaries outside the city and on the smaller islands off the coast.

- Vanessa Clarke

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