Hong Kong
Where East meets West
Hong Kong Nature, Fauna & Flora

Fauna & Flora

More nature reserves than jungles of concrete and steel

Hong Kong has a reputation for being an over populated metropolis, where every piece of land is efficiently used for urban development.  Those who visit the city for the first time will be, therefore, surprised to discover that most of the territory's land (75%) is not developed at all.  Moreover, most of Hong Kong is remarkably green, with about 40% of landmass reserved as country parks and nature reserves.

 

There is, therefore, a paradox, whereby most of the residents have to cram in small apartments, while a spacious nature reserve stretches in front of their window... The main reason for that lies in the territory's mountainous and hilly terrain that restricts development to certain areas.

 

In addition to that, the government of Hong Kong has made much effort to promote a green environment, especially due to the rapid urban development and the pollution that followed it.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' :

Hong Kong's steep and mountainous terrain restricts development to certain areas, leaving most of the territory undeveloped and green... Moreover, the city's leaders have long foreseen the need to protect sizeable green lungs for future generations, so about 40% of the landmass was reserved as country parks and nature reserves.

 

Thanks to its location on a climatic crossroads, where Tropical and Sub-tropical weather meet, Hong Kong's Flora and Fauna is extremely diverse, especially when one considers the territory's tiny size. The number of species of birds in Hong Kong is one third of that of China while the number of butterfly species is one sixth of the total butterfly species in China.

 

The flora of Hong Kong is diverse in character and surprisingly numerous in species.

Many typical species of the Southeast Asian tropical flora are seen here at the limit of their northern distribution range.  More than 3,100 species and varieties of vascular plants have been recorded in Hong Kong, approximately 2,100 of which are native and the rest are of exotic origin. Many species of plants in Hong Kong are noteworthy for the beauty or fragrance of their blossoms.

 

Hong Kong's "national" plant is the Bauhinia blakeana (Hong Kong Orchid Tree). It is among the finest of the Bauhinia genus, anywhere in the world and its beautiful flower is featured on the territory's flag.

 

A small insight from 'Metropolasia-Man' :

Thanks to its location on a climatic crossroads, Hong Kong boasts an amazingly diversified fauna and flora on a very small piece of land... For instance: The number of bird species in Hong Kong is one third of that of China, although Hong Kong's size is 10,000 smaller than that of its "big mama"

 

The parks and the special areas contain a wide variety of vegetation, including native and introduced tree species such as Camphor Laurel, Machilus, Schima, Acacia, Slash Pine and Brisbane Box.

 

Approximately 40 species of terrestrial mammals can be found in Hong Kong's parks and nature reserves.  Wild cats, such as Civets and Leopard Cats can be seen occasionally at night in the New Territories, alongside Chinese Porcupines.  Indian Muntjac (also known as Barking deer) are uncommon but are heard and seen in wooded areas.  There are Wild Boars in some remote areas, occasionally causing damage to crops.  Unlike many other animals, Rhesus Macaques are easily seen, especially in Kam Shan Country ParkPangolins and Squirrels can also be found in Hong Kong.

 

Larger wild mammals are declining in numbers in Hong Kong, mainly because of the increased urbanization.

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Hong Kong is a major stopover on Asia's migration routes for birds.  The wide variety of local habitats including wetlands, grasslands, woodlands, seashores and farmlands contributes to the diversity of the birds. There are over 450 species of wild birds including residents, winter visitors, passage migrants, and summer visitors recorded in Hong Kong. Some of these are globally endangered species such as Black-faced Spoonbill. About 120 species have been recorded breeding in the territory.  Birds such as the Greater Coucal, Great Barbet, Chinese Bulbul, Crested Mynah, Spotted Dove and Black-eared Kite can be seen in Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong has over 100 species of amphibians and reptiles. Among them, over 40 species are snakes. Most snakes in Hong Kong are harmless and there have been very few cases of known bites by highly venomous snakes. There are nine species of chelonians found in Hong Kong, of which the Green Turtle is of particular interest in that it is the only known species of sea turtles breeding locally.

 

One of Hong Kong's most fascinating Eco-systems exists within the territory's rocky shores. The tidal range of Hong Kong is about 2.5 meters and the species that inhabit these areas must be tolerant to both conditions : When the shores are covered with sea water, during high tide and when the shores are exposed to air, during low tide, for hours or days. Visiting the rocky shores reserves during low tide is an interesting experience.

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The marine fauna of Hong Kong is exceptionally diverse. Though primarily tropical, it is an admixture of tropical South China Sea and temperate Chinese forms because of the seasonal fluctuations of warm and cold water and monsoon weather conditions. Of an estimated 1,800 species of fish on the South China continental shelf, clupeoids, croakers and sea breams are the dominant groups in Hong Kong waters.  Farther offshore, golden thread, big-eyes and others are also of high value to fishermen.

 

Marine invertebrates are also abundant - ranging from corals, molluscs to crustaceans.

There are 84 species of stony corals in Hong Kong. The richest coral communities prevail to the east of Hong Kong where the waters are both sheltered and free from the influence of Pearl River. Marine mammals, Chinese White Dolphin and Finless Porpoise, are resident species and can be found year-round.

 

Detailed information on the territory's parks and their dwellers will be given in the respective regional chapters.

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