After visiting FRIM, we decided to go to one of the top tourist attractions in Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves. There is a temple inside the caves, for the Hindu god Muruga (also known as Kartikeya), son of Shiva.
The rocks of the caves are made of calcium carbonate, commonly known as limestone. As the limestone eroded over time, it created beautiful structures called stalagmites and stalactites. These cave formations are majestic and vibrant- absolutely amazing to see!
While descending the steps, we saw this conservation site, the Dark Cave- and as we had never explored a cave before, we decided to go for a guided walk. Little did we know that these ancient caves were formed over 440 million years old and were home to animals which have evolved over 100 million years old, including the world’s rarest spider , the Trapdoor spider(Liphistius batuensis).
Most animals/ insects have adapted themselves to live in the pitch-dark caves, using mainly their sensory organs to navigate themselves and find food. All life in the caves depend mainly on bat droppings or guano.
In the picture below, many ants are feeding on a dead cave cricket:
As we had our torchlights, the cave lit up just enough to see a few steps ahead. But once, when our guide told us to switch all our lights off, we really experienced the ‘darkness’ of the Dark Cave. Have you ever experienced total darkness before? In the caves, the darkness at first was overwhelming, but as I got used to it, I felt calm and tranquil.
The caves were cool and dark, but definitely not silent. The high-pitched sounds of the Cave nectar bat (Eonycteris spelaea) and the insectivorous Diadem Horseshoe Bat (Hipposideros Diadema) constantly echoed the cave. We were not allowed to shine our lights high in the cave, but we managed to see shadows of them flying across.
Our guide told us that the insectivorous bats eat half their weight in mosquitoes every day. We should bring more bats to Singapore to help fight the dengue!
This a long-legged centipede( Thereuopoda longicornis) that we saw on the cave wall:
These caves are also home to many more organisms- such as the Light colored snail ( Opeas species) , the Spiny Millipede(Ascetophacus macclurei) , Flatworm ( Dugesia Batuensis) and the snake, Cave Racer (Othriophis Taeniurus ridleyi) which mainly feeds on bats.
The trapdoor spider is a very unique and rare species that is found deep in the cave. It rarely comes out of its burrow, and seals the entrance of the burrow with a disguised web trapdoor. When an insect trips or unsuspectingly gets trapped onto the lines of the web which radiate of the entrance, it catches the prey.
Our guide was Zarris Kem. He was an amazing guide, and was very funny and engaging. The tour was really awesome, and was a great learning experience! Thanks to Zarris and to the Cave Management Group Malaysia for opening the caves to the public, and spreading the awareness!
Be sure to check out the Dark Cave facebook page, and do visit the caves when you get the opportunity! It was definitely an out-of-this world experience.
Next up- Taman Negara!
Correction* The caves were actually formed about 120 million years old but the rocks in it were formed 440 million years ago.