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Compact as it is, Hong Kong is home to an unbelievably diverse ecosystem. From the seas to the swamps, from the plants to the animals, visit these easily accessible parks and get to know our neighbours. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for tucked-away sights along the way!
is a protected area that contains 60 types of hard coral and 120 species of coral fish. It’s also a particularly good spot for those interested in snorkelling or mangroves. And if you’re a seasoned diver, you can make the place even more amazing by helping with underwater clean-ups, while non-divers can take part in the beach clean-up activities.
If the day is clear and the tide is low, you should be able to see coral heads poking through the water. These are brain coral, earning this un-poetic name from their round shapes and convoluted surface patterns. You should also be able to see various colourful fish swimming through the coral, but you might wish to take a closer look by renting snorkelling gear back at the village. Be careful with the coral though — it’s protected. Read these coral area diving and snorkelling guidelines first.
is home to an impressive cast of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, reptiles and fish. Inside, the Wetland Interactive World features themed galleries, cinema and 3D trick art, a theatre and the Swamp Adventure indoor play area. The 60-hectare outdoor Wetland Reserve houses recreated wetland habitats specially designed for waterfowl and other wildlife which will enhance your understanding of this ecosystem.
Head to the beautifully landscaped 72-square-metre outdoor enclosure for a chance to spot Pui Pui up close: first sighted at Shan Pui River in the northwest New Territories in November 2003, the then juvenile salt water crocodile is suspected to have been an illegal pet dumped into the river. She was caught by AFCD staff after seven months and named ‘Pui Pui’, which means ‘the precious one’ and echoes the name of the river where she was found.
Originally established by the wealthy Kadoorie brothers to provide some aid to poor local farmers, thehas outdoor activities that will appeal to the whole family. The conservation centre’s paths take you wandering through vegetable gardens, greenhouses of beautiful flowers and plants, and scores of different animals. But it’s more than just a pretty face; the farm has also pioneered organic growth methods in Hong Kong, and helped introduce local strains of pigs and chickens, which you can see there.
Visit small pools housing waterfowl, including flamingos. If you’re keen for some sweeping views of the countryside, head to the top near the Kadoorie Brothers’ Memorial Pavilion. If you are lucky, you just might see porcupines, pangolin or barking deer, although the best time to see them is at dusk as they’re mostly nocturnal.
Every winter, around 90,000 migratory birds take refuge in the marshes and mudflats of the internationally acclaimed, a vital stopover point for waterbirds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Of the 400 species of birds that inhabit the reserve, 35 are of global conservation concern including the Saunders’s gull and the black-faced spoonbill. Other critters such as otters, fiddler crabs and mudskippers also call the area home.
The peak time for bird-watching is from autumn through to spring the following year, when birds come to forage in the vicinity of Mai Po and the Inner Deep Bay wetlands, feeding on fish, shrimps and crabs among the mangroves. Keen birders should also keep an eye out for the 400 species of insects, 80 species of marine invertebrate and 100 species of butterflies that can also be found here!
The Mai Po Nature Reserve is listed in the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance of Hong Kong, so access to the area is restricted. Visitors can join a selection of organised tours that run throughout the year. Please visit World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong’s website for more information.
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