Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation
The Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation was founded in 2004. Before it was established, it was an online forum formed by Mr. Yeung Ka Man (楊嘉文) and it focused on saving abandoned reptiles such as turtles, lizards, snakes etc. It soon gathered more volunteers and they formed an adoption centre for these animals. Now, the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation is an officially registered organisation under the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) which provides adoption services and receives confiscated animals from animal smuggling, and later allows the public to adopt them.
Aims of the Society
Adoption Services for the Public
The Society has developed a well-designed adoption system to assist all the staff or volunteers to find the right ‘home’ for their animals.
Promote Ecological Conservation
They also hold talks and events at schools or during exhibitions, as well as conducts surveys and does projects on ecological diversity and releases results to the public.
Promote Animal Welfare
The Society fights against animal cruelty and helps animals ‘speak out’ by suggesting policies to the government to ensure reptiles can share the same protections and rights comparing with other pets such as cats and dogs (currently there are no related policies for reptiles).
The Society’s income sources are from donations from the public and fundings from the government. However, veterinary cost and rental payments for both the adoption centre and working space to do research and development cause a huge economic burden to the Society.
Limited Human Resources
Although the Society is receiving fundings from the government, which allows it to hire staff to run the Society on a daily basis, the Society still faces the issue of the lack of human resources. Also, the number of volunteers is unstable since some of them do not volunteer in the long term.
Hard to Measure Education Progress
The Society has participated in a lot of educational events. However, it is difficult to measure its progress because educational events need to be carried out in the long term to raise public awareness.
When you tell people they can adopt instead of buying, they forget easily.”
– Henry Chan (The Conservation Officer of the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation)
One Unforgettable Story
They even remember what animals we brought last year!” – Henry Chan
As the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation will collaborate with schools to hold educational talks, there is a kindergarten that they visit annually. When they first visited this kindergarten, the staff from the society were amazed by the children’s reactions. “They (the children) were not afraid at all but instead the teachers’ reactions were more sensitive than the kids and they were scared,” Henry added.
From the children’s reactions, Henry realized that the younger generations have less labelling and misconceptions towards reptiles. Therefore, it is important to educate younger generations at an earlier stage before misconceptions or barriers are developed due to the social norms within the society. After seeing the precious reactions from these children, they feel touched and are motivated to hold more relevant events.
Video: ‘We are waiting for you to adopt us!’
Photographer: Emily Luk
Interviewees: Henry Chan and Kestrel Lam (The Conservation Officers of the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation)