sign in a cave in Laos

23 November 2017

New Liphistius spider L. priceae named after me

I am honoured to have a new species of Liphistius spider named after me in 2017. The trapdoor spider, Liphistius priceae sp. nov. has recently been described in a new paper, Revue suisse de Zoologie (September 2017) 124(2): 391-445, A revision of the trapdoor spider genus Liphistius (Mesothelae: Liphistiidae) in peninsular Malaysia; part 1, by Peter J. Schwendinger.

There are 5 species groups of Liphistius in peninsular Malaysia : the trang group, the malayanus-group, the batuensis-group, the tioman-group and the linang-group. L. priceae sp. nov. belongs to the linang-group.

The specimens were collected by Dr Peter Schwendinger. They are known only from two caves in the
same limestone hill at Dabong in Kelantan - Gua Keris and Gua Pagar. None were found in the associated rain forest so they may be confined to caves, although show no noteworthy cave adaptations.

Unfortunately there are no photo of the live specimens, only those in alcohol -



Extracts from the paper :

(Location):
Malaysia, Kelantan, about 5 km
S of Dabong, Gua Keris (= Kris Cave) and Gua Pagar
(locally also called Gua King Kong), 130 m; 8.-9.
VI.2004; leg. P.J. Schwendinger. The precise type
locality is Gua Keris.

Etymology: 
The new species is named in honour of
Liz Price (London, UK), a former long-time resident
in Kuala Lumpur, and a very active speleologist who
over 30 years explored and published on caves and cave
faunas all over Southeast Asia. She was also involved
in conservation and trying to save some caves from
destruction by quarrying in Malaysia.

Diagnosis: 
Small to medium-sized, light-brown coloured
species, similar and closely related to
L. tempurung. Both sexes slightly smaller than those
of L. tempurung.


This is the second specimen to have been named after me. The first was a snail from Laos, called Sinoennea lizae

A big thank you to Peter Schwendinger for honouring me with this cave spider.

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20 November 2017

Da Seng Ngan cave temple with blue haired Buddha

In 2014 I posted about the blue haired Buddha in cave temples around Ipoh, Perak. The main temple to have these Buddhas is Da Seng Ngan at Gunung Rapat. In Nov 2016 I went back to have another look.

Tokong Da Seng Ngan is next to Kwan Yin temple. There used to be access between the two but now it seems they have been separated off.

Da Seng Ngan is thought to have been established over 100 years ago but in 1974, the bund of a retention pond for tin mine tailings broke its banks. The resulting mud slide buried all the cave temples in this area at the foot of Gunung Rapat. Other temples were soon dug out, but Da Seng Ngan remained buried for 32 years. When the Ipoh Benevolent Society were building a second pond they came across the buried temple. The walls and facade of the temple were all intact. Artefacts found included copper statues of the Buddha, porcelain statues of Kuan Kong (God of War), urns, candleholders and chinaware.  The Star newspaper had several articles in March 2006.

Over the years the temple has developed with buildings and lots of new statues. There are now lots of these mass produced Buddhas by the car park.


I don't think much has changed inside the cave area. Although some of the Buddhas now have more decorative robes, such as this black haired Buddha -

Black haired Kwan Yin made of fake (?) wood -

And a group of different hair colours, white, blue and black -
Here the blue haired Buddha is holding a golden ball
and this one a blue ball
Note there is also a bald patch on top of the head!

The newer statues seem to look more feminine. I don't know if this is intentional or just the production.

Whilst in Ipoh we had a look at a couple of shops that sell temple paraphernalia and saw just a few blue hair statues -

Again I have tried to find the significance of the blue hair but there is very little info. Some sites suggest the blue is favoured by people in Tibet and Nepal, as those people favour the blue mineral  lapis lazuli. It reminds them of the azure sky in those high altitude regions, and it is said that the hair of their goddess had this colour. Both men and women wore it on their heads. And statues prepared in Tibet and the Himalayn kingdom of Nepal have their hair painted blue.

Other say lapis is the color of the principal Medicine Buddha, making this stone an important one in Buddhist mysticism. The Lapis Healing Master is one of the most honored figures in the Buddhist pantheon.

It is surprising why so few other temples feature this blue hair.

My 2014 blog on the blue hair Buddha

© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission

5 November 2017

Tham Phra Nang Nai, Railay, Krabi

This was only my second visit to Tham Phra Nang Nai at Railay, Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand. Tham Phra Nang Nai is also known as Diamond Cave. Although some years ago it was called Inner Princess Cave, see my 2002 blog, where I wrote "A larger cave was discovered more recently. It is at the north end of Rai Leh Beach and is called Tham Phra Nang Nai (Inner Princess Cave). It used to be called Diamond Cave. The National Park authorities have lighted up the cave and built a concrete walkway for the convenience of visitors. There is an admission fee of 20 Baht (RM2). The generator is switched on every other half hour, or when visitors show up. There is a beautiful golden flowstone in the cave, as well as some stunning stalagmites and stalactites. This cave is rumoured to be the grand palace of the princess, whilst the other cave is her summer palace. The cliffs outside the cave offer more climbing routes. "

Now in 2017, admission is 100 Bt and the electricity is on all the time. And it looks as if they have reverted to Diamond Cave for the English name.


 The entrance -

The concrete walkway is a bit broken in places, but not too bad








A small colony of insect eating bats, maybe Hipposideros






16 October 2017

Illegal logging in Merapoh, around Gua Hari Malaysia

A report in Sinar Harian on 15 Oct 2017, "Hutan Simpan Merapoh kini makin parah?" (Is Merapoh Forest Reserve getting worse now?), talks about illegal logging and maybe gold mining going on in the Merapoh Forest Reserve. It has happened recently, in Oct 2017. One of the worst areas is in the forest around Gua Hari Malaysia. The water flowing through the cave is now muddy.

"Based on the preliminary investigation with the villagers, there was no direct signboard confirming logging activities. We suspect illegal logging activities or steal gold. They are quite cunning because they operate during the rainy season and are believed to be involved with other parties, ".

"In addition, Merapoh Forest Reserve is known for its wildlife sanctuaries such as elephants, bears, goats, tapirs, tigers and the world's smallest flower breeding grounds."

"This is also the location of an international event that has attracted tourists to Malaysia, the Magnificent Merapoh Trail for three consecutive years since 2015, with almost 30 countries participating in it."

It has been known for a few years that illegal logging is taking place in this area of northern Pahang.
There was also a possibility that Gua Hari Malaysia would be quarried.

I've posted many blogs about the caves and flora and fauna of this area. It seems that everything is in danger of being destroyed - by logging, mining or quarrying.
--
UPDATE

On 16 Oct, Bernama published "No Logging In Merapoh Forest Reserve"
No Logging In Merapoh Forest Reserve

KUANTAN, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The Pahang Forestry Department today stressed that there is no logging or mining activity in the Merapoh Forest Reserve area in Lipis near here, as alleged by a non-governmental organisation posting which went viral on the social media.

Its director Datuk Mohd Paiz Kamaruzaman said the alleged logging activity was actually on land owned by the Agriculture Industrial Development Board (LKPP) and did not involve any forest reserve land.

He said the LKPP had the permit to develop the land and had built a 1.2-kilometre trail in the area to transport forest products before the land is developed.

"The process of making the trail to transport the forest products had been approved by the estate manager. The process does not involve the Forestry Department because there is no forest reserve land involved. It is understood that the trail was made as it was the nearest access to the main road.

"Although it is outside our jurisdiction, we took the initiative to investigate and see for ourselves the track as we were worried it involved forest reserve land. We also met and talked to the land owners.....

This was reprinted in The SUN on 16 Oct "No logging in Merapoh Forest Reserve" and also the Malaysian Digest.

There were 2 articles in The Star on 20 Oct :
‘Look for another trail to Merapoh caves’which is about talks with the locals and the land owners about the trails etc.

Seeing red over deforestation , with a photo of the destruction.

--

UPDATE -

Some very depressing photos of the destruction in FreeMalaysiaToday 25 Nov 2017.

25 July 2017

Study on snails in Perak

Lafarge Malaysia, who are quarrying Gunung Kanthan (see labels), provided a grant to scientists from Rimba and Universiti Malaysia Sabah to study land snails on 12 limestone hills in Perak. See Rimba for more on this.

The results were published in ZooKeys 682 on 4 July 2017, Diversity and biogeography of land snails (Mollusca, Gastropoda) in the limestone hills of Perak, Peninsular Malaysia, by Junn Kitt Foon, Gopalasamy Reuben Clements, Thor-Seng Liew. The results are very interesting, on 12 hills -
"We found 122 species of land snails, of which 34 species were unique to one of the surveyed hills. We identified 30 species that are potentially new to science. The number of land snail species recorded at each hill ranged between 39 and 63 species.".

This is quite exciting, lots of potentially new species.

The study also reveals that "Charopa lafargei which previously presumed as endemic to Gunung Kanthan (Vermeulen and Marzuki 2014), is shown in our study to also occur on the limestone hills at the north of Kinta Valley".

--------

Over the years I have collected a few snails from limestone areas. This one is common all over Peninsula Malaysia -
Amphidromus atricallosus perakensis (Fulton, 1901)

See more on my blog Some snail shells from Pahang and Perak limestone.

__

11 July 2017

LafargeHolcim accelerates biodiversity efforts in Southeast Asia

My blog in June 2014 reported that Cement giants Lafarge and Holcim would merge. The merger happened in July 2015.

Lafarge is the company quarrying Gunung Kanthan - see labels about this.

On 11 July 2017, LafargeHolcim published an article, " LafargeHolcim accelerates biodiversity efforts in Southeast Asia".  See link for the full article. Although Gunung Kanthan isn't specifically mentioned, it does relate to Malaysia. Excerpt from first paragraph:
"LafargeHolcim is accelerating its efforts on biodiversity conservation and has signed an agreement with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a leading NGO focused on biodiversity. Under the agreement, FFI will perform an independent external review of the Group’s existing biodiversity management plans (BMP’s) at sites in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines; contribute to the development of a Groupwide strategy on karst management since karst areas are an important habitat for unique and specialized fauna; identify opportunities for enhancing biodiversity in quarry rehabilitation; and organize a stakeholder dialogue bringing together an external expert group, local government, local NGOs and LafargeHolcim staff to consult on BMP recommendations."

17 May 2017

Penang Woman dated at 5710 years old

Although not cave related, I am posting it as it is archaeological and refers to human remains.

Human remains were found when the area was dug up to lay the foundations for the Guar Kepah Archaeological Gallery, Kepala Batas, near the Penang-Kedah border, about 28km from Butterworth. The bones were found in April 2017 and radiocarbon dated in the US, giving an approximate age of 5710 years. Further samples have been sent to Denmark and will take 6 months for results.

The sex of the bones isn't confirmed, but they have been called "Penang Woman".

Read more on The Star 13 May 2017.

27 January 2017

Gomantong Caves 3D Model fly through

A stunning fly through of Gomantong Caves


Published on Oct 12, 2013          
Standard YouTube License
This work is the preliminary product of an international collaboration of cave scientists which combines state-of-the-art laser scanning with aerial  drone photogrammetry. More details at: http://faculty.jsd.claremont.edu/dmcfarlane/Borneo/index.htm

Gomantong Caves 2012 with gatewing and faro 3D scanner


Borneo - survey Gomantong Caves 2012 with gatewing and faro 3D scanner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIaoWjeH7TM&feature=player_detailpage#t=340


---------------------

Gomantong Caves in Borneo, overview of the 3D scan reconstruction
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVhPadSFZ-U



3D laser scanning in Kota Gelanggi

In Nov 2014 I joined the UTM team for 3D scanning in a cave at Kota Gelanggi. In 2009 I had joined their scanning team at caves in Lenggong, Perak.

The caves at Kota Gelanggi in Pahang are quite well known as some are open to the public. There is an entry fee of RM5.



It is now called a Cave Heritage Park but was deserted when we went there. As the others didn't know the caves, I suggested we do the scanning in Gua Terang Bulan . To get there we drove through Gua Jin (aka Gua Tongkat).


I had attended the official opening of Gua Terang Bulan as a show cave in 1998. The (56) stairs up to the cave were somewhat overgrown and also partly blocked by a fallen tree. There was quite a lot of heavy equipment to carry - the new Faro scanner "only" weighs about 20 kg !


The cave is gated -

44 steps lead down into the main passage -


There is/was electric lighting in the cave, though judging by the state of things and the generator outside, I doubt if the lights still work. The fixtures and fittings, walkway etc were all in terrible condition. Many of the handrails were broken and the debris just lying on the floor, including many light bulbs. Such a pity.



Fungi on a handrail -

We went through the cave to the end. A generally flat passage leads via steps into another long level passage



There are a few nice formations in the cave and some not so nice graffiti.



This is probably a survey station left by the Museums Dept when doing archaeological work

The passage goes up steeply into the final chamber. Steps go half way up into this chamber that is partly lit  by daylight. This is where we started scanning.

Preparing the 16 marker balls for the scanning



Getting the scanner set up -



Each scan takes 7 minutes. During this time we had to sit in total darkness. After a few scans, I went ahead and out of range of the scanner and spent time looking for cave fauna.


Web spiders , including Psechrus -




Long legged centipede, Thereupoda -

Crickets



Whip spider -

Snails, probably Subulina octona -



There were a few insect eating bats in the cave and many dead ones. Bat skeleton -






Unidentified bones -

Bird feathers -

I was quite intrigued by these burrowing spiders. There is a spider in every hole in this photo -



There were also crickets waiting by some of the burrows, but I don't know the reason. They all jumped away before I was able to get any photos. I was unable to get the spiders identified, they could be a burrowing species of wolf-spiders ( Lycosa sp.), or maybe Damarchus or Atmetochilus. There was a lot of insect debris by some of the holes, e.g. cockroach wings etc.

Roots coming into the cave

Some formations

In places the formations are starting to break down

The results -


For more on scanning techniques, see the Lenggong blog.


See also counting bats through scanning in Gua Kelawar, Langkawi, also scanning in Bau caves.

--
© Liz Price
No reproduction without permission