Yangmingshan Park censured for mismanagement of wild water buffaloes

12/17/2021 10:52 PM
To activate the text-to-speech service, please first agree to the privacy policy below.
Two of the wild water buffaloes are pictured in a shed built by the national park headquarters for the animal in January. CNA file photo
Two of the wild water buffaloes are pictured in a shed built by the national park headquarters for the animal in January. CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) The Control Yuan has taken the Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters to task for its management of wild water buffaloes, saying that its negligence played a part in the unusually high number of animals that died.

The investigation looked into the mysterious deaths of dozens of buffaloes in the park, many of them last winter, and it found that the park headquarters' actions were "rash" and "negligent" and "wasted public funds."

At a press conference Friday, members of the body responsible for investigating and censuring inappropriate behavior by public agencies and officials presented their findings and demanded that the park take corrective action, including deciding whether the animals should be relocated and how to protect them during the winter months.

Control Yuan member Jao Yung-ching (趙永清) said that during the winter through February 2021, 31 wild water buffaloes died in the Qingtiangang Grassland area alone, and 50 died throughout the park, 10 times more than the maximum five that normally die per year.

The water buffaloes were originally managed by the Yangmingshan Ranch, which was affiliated with a local farmers' association, but after the ranch was shut down, the water buffaloes were left behind and have since reproduced on their own, Jao said.

Left to roam, the buffaloes became somewhat of a tourism attraction in the popular park, but after a visitor was hurt, the park headquarters decided to put up a fence to limit the area where the buffaloes could roam and keep them separate from people.

That, Jao said, was misguided, because even though the fence followed the path of fences used during the farmers' association era, the park headquarters failed to consider that the association took care of the water buffaloes and helped shelter them in winter.

After the sudden death of large numbers of wild water buffaloes this year, the park then decided to tear down fences on the eastern and southern boundaries of the area, Jao said.

Building and demolishing those sections of the fence cost a total of NT$2.3 million, which wasted public funds, Jao said, and the decision-making process related to setting up and tearing down the fence was rash and negligent and wasted public funds, resulting in the Control Yuan's decision.

Control Yuan member Wang Li-jen (王麗珍) said park management should protect the natural environment and preserve biodiversity, and putting up a barbed wire fence was inconsistent with those goals.

If the Yangmingshan park headquarters believed its decision to put up the fence was the correct one, it should not have had to tear it down, Wang said.

The Control Yuan members said the incident made clear that the health of the animals is affected by habitat and climate conditions and that the park headquarters was not aware of that.

They therefore asked the office to consider the purpose of a national park as well as animal welfare and the park's landscape in studying whether the wild water buffaloes should be kept in the park or relocated, and how to help the animals when the weather is bad in the winter.

They also suggested that the park headquarters should better educate visitors and make clear that the animals are wild and should not be approached.

The park headquarters responded by saying several of the measures suggested have already been taken, including setting up food stations for the animals in November and cooperating with veterinarians to provide medical rescue services as required.

It has also put up railings on more popular trails to keep visitors from getting close to the wild water buffaloes, and signs have been put up warning hikers in less used areas to take safety precautions.

Claire Chen (陳玉敏), vice president of the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan, agreed with the Control Yuan's decision, saying that putting barbed wire fences was not only harmful to the buffaloes but also to other forms of wildlife there.

She said the park office should take advantage of this opportunity to better educate the public on the animals and to further consider how it will manage the wild water buffalo population going forward.

(By Lin Yu-hsuan and Ken Wang)


    We value your privacy.
    Focus Taiwan (CNA) uses tracking technologies to provide better reading experiences, but it also respects readers' privacy. Click here to find out more about Focus Taiwan's privacy policy. When you close this window, it means you agree with this policy.