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).

 

Chinese New Year Flower
(Enkianthus quinqueflorus)

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.

 

 
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Rhododendrons

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.

 
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Mammals

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.

 
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