Our series of online people profiles covers a wide range of backgrounds, careers and personalities of individuals in Hong Kong. In this instalment, we chat with wildlife expert ROBERT FERGUSON, who researches the wonderful creatures that can be found in HK’s hills and forests, and documents them in photos, blogs and books (including a new release!).
Where are you from originally? What do you miss about it?
I’m from the UK, but I grew up in Switzerland. Sometimes I miss the snow!
Tell us about your expat “trail”. When did you first come here? Where else have you lived?
I came to Hong Kong in 1991 to follow my girlfriend, Dr Sally Ferguson, and we got married a couple of years later. We spent three years, from 1995 to 1998, in Ho Chi Minh City, and I spent six months in Shanghai in 2016; otherwise, we have moved around different hospital accommodations in Hong Kong, and now we live in Sai Kung.
Is Hong Kong “home”?
Yes, Hong Kong is home, but I live in rental accommodation, so I’m lucky to also have my own house outside of London in Farnham, which is a “family home”.
What do you do here?
I worked as a GM and regional director for media groups, most recently The Economist and Reuters, but I stopped that in 2018 to work as a wildlife photographer, publisher, blogger and conservationist, founding wildcreatureshongkong.org. I also volunteer part-time at a local food bank NGO, feedinghk.org.
Give us an insight into a typical working day for you.
I am either in The Hive in Sai Kung working on a book or my blog, or I’m up in the hills, valleys, forests and streams looking for wild creatures to photograph and connect with.
You have just launched a new book – tell us a bit about it.
I co-produced The Field Guide to Hong Kong Snakes with the author Adam Francis, which has been super successful, with our initial print run of 1,000 copies sold out in the first three weeks. My own publication, an ID booklet called Wild Creatures in Hong Kong Volume I has also sold over 2,500 copies to date, and Volume II will be available by the end of April.
What neighbourhood do you live in, and why did you choose it?
I live in Sha Kok Mei, Sai Kung. It’s brilliant! It’s remote enough to feel like we live in the country, but only five minutes away from Sai Kung town, with great shops, food and drink. A 10-minute walk and you are on the beach, and a 20-minute drive and you can be in the forests and hillsides, away from everything.
Describe your home to us.
It’s a typical 700-square-footer, but it has big windows and a clever new build that makes it airy and unique. My photo prints and my wife’s paintings cover the walls, and we love spending time on the roof doing yoga or drinking martinis.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies in Hong Kong?
I’m a bit of a petrol head, so I love to drive. I just bought a Skyline GTR34.
Quick questions about Hong Kong: what is your favourite …
Casual restaurant? Singalings in Sai Kung
Date night restaurant? Grissini in the Grand Hyatt
Bar? Anywhere with a view; Momentai in Sai Kung
Local food? Sai Kung does brilliant dim sum overlooking the sea front – it can’t be beat!
Thing to do with visitors? Take them for a jungle walk and show them amazing green views; Kadoorie Farm is perhaps best for this
Thing to do with kids? Take them into the forests and search for bugs and beasts, and maybe have a swim; Tai Po Kau is great for this
Nearby holiday destination? I love Singapore.
New in 2022!
Robert’s latest book The Bugs of Hong Kong is now available from Kidnapped, Bookazine, The Lion Rock Press and from Robert’s website, wildcreatureshongkong.org. The book takes us into the fascinating world of arthropods, as they’re officially known. A handy flowchart helps you to identify your bug, and a corresponding page tells you all about it. Stunning colour photography coupled with scientific detail and fascinating facts make this a fab reference book for all.
Like this? See more in our Hong Kong people series in our Living in Hong Kong section!