More about Site of Special Scientific Interest
in Hong Kong
Tai Tam Catchment Area is within Tai Tam Country Park, southeast
Hong Kong Island, with an area over 1,240 hectares. This area includes
a wide variety of habitats, with hills, rivers, ravines, forests,
shrubland, reservoirs and artificial channels, thus support a diversity
of flora and fauna. It was designated as a Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI) in 1979.
During World War II, many trees in Tai Tam Catchment Area were logged.
Fortunately, extensive reafforestation programmes, coupled with conservation,
have returned the area to a fairly luxuriant woodland that is again
becoming a favourable habitat for wildlife.
There are many species of plants in the catchment area, especially
within the ravines. Wild plants include Common Melastoma (Melastoma
candidum), Ivy Tree (Schefflera heptaphylla), Machilus
(Machilus sp.), Gordonia (Gordonia axillaris), the
protected Chinese New Year
Flower (Enkianthus quinqueflorus),
rhododendrons, and rare orchids. The thriving woods and shrubs
in ravines provide favourable habitats for native animals (e.g. butterflies,
dragonflies, birds and mammals).
New Year Flower
As the name indicates, Chinese New Year Flower blooms in early
spring. The pink flowers hang on the branches like bells. Because
of the time it flowers, and its beauty, many people decorate
their homes with Chinese New Year Flowers during Lunar New Year
celebrations. As a result, the hillsides of Hong Kong íV which
were once covered with wild Chinese New Year Flowers íV have
now been mostly cleared of this species. Although Chinese New
Year Flower is protected by law, it is still often illegally
picked during Lunar New Year.
There are six species of rhododendrons in Hong Kong: Champion's
Rhododendron (Rhododendron championae), Farrer's Azalea
(Rhododendron farrerae), Hong Kong Azalea (Rhododendron
hongkongense), Red Azalea (Rhododendron simsii),
Westland's Rhododendron (Rhododendron moulmainense)
and South China Rhododendron (Rhododendron simiarum).
They are all protected by law. The most commonly seen rhododendron
in Tai Tam Catchment Area is Red Azalea (Rhododendron simsii),
which blooms with orange-red flowers from February to March.
Wild mammals are declining in number because of the degradation
or loss of habitats caused by urbanization, and are now mainly
restricted to country parks and nature reserve. Many mammals
can be found in Tai Tam Catchment Area. For example, squirrels
are often seen jumping from tree to tree. Barking Deer (Muntiacus
muntjac) and Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis) are
very alert and difficult to observe, but we can hear them sometimes.
Most mammals in Hong Kong are protected by the Wild Animals
Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170). Under the ordinance, no person
shall hunt or wilfully disturb any protected wild animals.