Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cavers found New Aquatic life in Nongkhlieh Caves

The annual cave expedition aptly called Caving in the abode of cloud organised by Meghalaya Adventure Association started on the February 2 at Nongkhlieh in the Saipung Sub Division to the east of Jowai. The cave exploration is regular annual event in which cavers from the world over took part in the expeditions; and since 1992 the cavers has surveyed and map more than 300 KM of caves in the state of Meghalaya alone.

Simon Brooks a team leader from UK and who has been caving in the different parts of the World said that the caves in the Jaintia hills especially in the Nongkhlieh ridge are unique because there are all kinds of caves both horizontal and vertical caves in the region. Bah Brian Kharpran Dally a pioneer in caving expedition among the Meghalaya and recipient of Tezing Norgay award from the government of India said that the Nongkhlieh ridge is important for the state because we have Krem Liatprah which is the longest cave and the krem Synrang Pamiang the deepest cave in the country. Brian also told this scribe that Nongkhlieh ridge is unique because in the 30 square KM area, they have mapped more than 100 KM of caves.

On the important of the scientific studies of the caves, bah Brian said that the cave is not only important to archeologist, paleontologist, zoologist and others; we now even have climatologist who came to study the caves. He also add that krem Liatprah is one of the oldest cave in the Meghalaya which had formed million of years ago and the cave is like a time capsule where climatologist learned about the monsoon and the climate change over thousand of years.

The area is exceptional caving region not only because of the network of caves, it is equally important because inside the caves there are also cave’s creatures which can be found only in the caves of this area. Most of the creatures found in the area are bats but deep down in the belly of the nature; they also found cricket with antennae ten times the size of the insect. Creature inside the cave has over the years evolved in the hostile environment of total darkness that they live so both fishes and insects have no eyes. Last year also the cavers caught a fish from one of the cave, the same has been send for study. This year rather unexpectedly, a fish was accidentally caught in one of the accessories of the cavers and bah Brian categorically confirmed that it is totally a new species altogether.

In this particular expedition, the cavers not only include professionals from abroad, but for the first time in the history of the armed force in the country, a contingent of Indian Navy under Commander Vijay Chhikara joined the expedition. Chhikara said that it is an honoured that the MAA has agreed to take them because armed force has climb mount Everest, explored North pole but, this is the first caving expedition by any branch of the armed force.

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