Ancient cave under threat

IPOH: A herd of buffaloes, illegal digging works to search for crystals and graffiti, are ruining a limestone cave within the Kinta Valley Geopark near here.

Gua Matsurat, situated within the Ipoh township, near the famous Gunung Lang is rich in history but if people continue to dig further, the walls of the cave could collapse destroying a link to the past forever.

Mohd Fadly Md Noor, a Perak nature guide who led a group of journalists into the cave said that some 50 buffaloes from an illegally erected shed nearby have been roaming freely into the cave for the past eight years, leaving their dung behind, and damaging the structure of the limestone.

“These buffaloes also have the habit of making mud pools and this is destroying the cave floor.

“Besides the buffaloes, since February, some people have been digging inside the cave, probably to look for treasure and crystals,” he told reporters yesterday.

Nature lovers were now worried, he said, because the cave floor has been dug up considerably.

“People are still coming into the cave at night with machinery for digging works.

“The caretaker of the buffaloes, comes around 7am daily to let the animals out, and would get them in by 7pm,” he said.

In October 2018, Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah had proclaimed Kinta Valley as a National Geopark.

Kinta Valley covers 1,952 sq km in Kinta and Kampar districts, where the geopark sites are located.

There are 18 sites within the geopark.

Mohd Fadly, who is also the president of the Ventrex Outdoor Recreation club, said he worked very closely with state authorities on ways to preserve the cave.

On the cave wall, he said there were around 11 drawings using charcoal dating back to over 200 years, where some have been destroyed by graffiti.

He said the Perak Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG) was in the midst of mapping the cave.

“Besides JMG, the Heritage Department and the Perak State Parks Corporation are also making efforts to preserve the cave.

“There was one time my team discovered an old pottery piece inside the natural ponds of the cave, which was then handed over to Universiti Sains Malaysia for research,” he added.

Mohd Fadly now only hopes that the shed could be demolished and the animals placed elsewhere, as to prevent them from entering the cave to search for food, water and shelter.

“I also hope that the intruders that come into the cave late at night can be caught as well,” he said.

Lab technician Sujab Sayuti, 44, who lives nearby, said he has been monitoring vehicles entering the site close to the cave on most days.

“During the day it is easy to spot them but under the cover of darkness they sneak in and carry out digging works.

“I usually report any human movement activities near the cave to Mohd Fadly, as we want to preserve the limestone hill for future generations,” he added.

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