Croatian Cave Expedition Visits Merapoh, Malaysia
This past September, nine cavers from Croatia (from SOŽ – Speleološki odsjek HPD Željezničar and SOV – Speleološki odsjek PDS Velebit), plus myself (based in Kuala Lumpur) joined up with Malaysians from the Merapoh Nature Guides Association to look for caves in the Merapoh area of northern Pahang on the Malaysian peninsula.
There are dozens of limestone hills running in a north-south line through this area and only a few of them had been explored by cavers.
The expedition was very successful, in seven days of caving we looked at 26 caves and surveyed seven of them. One of the best finds, a 927 meter (3041 foot) long river cave, was found on Malaysia Day and so named Gua Hari Malaysia. It is a through cave and has a wide variety of cave fauna including several colonies of bats. In the streamway outside the cave, both up and downstream, we found elephant bones.
Other caves had large chambers, lots of formations and interesting geology. Many of the caves were home to cave fauna, particularly bats, as well as invertebrates such as whip and huntsmen spiders, scorpions crickets etc. We also saw some cave racer snakes and porcupine.
Unfortunately some of these caves are in danger of being destroyed by quarrying. Some of the hills have been ‘acquired’ by one of Malaysia’s largest quarry and cement companies. The locals are signing petitions to give to the local government and quarry company.
During the trip, the Croatians were also able to train the locals in safe use of ropes for SRT (single rope technique).
Since the expedition I returned to look for more caves with the locals, and in three days we found another nine caves. Some have interesting geology, in particular Gua Sisik Naga has some wonderful stylolites – wavy bedding surfaces.