IPOH: The fossil teeth of a herbivorous mammal, preserved at the site of their discovery in Gua Matsoorat here, have been damaged.
Perak Natural Heritage Geopark Tour Guides Association chairman Mohd Fadly Md Noor said the teeth and partial jawbone were found damaged at about 12.30pm on Thursday (March 18).
Mohd Fadly said a group of people, believed to be from a video production company, had visited the cave earlier.
"We are not sure which company they are from and what they were trying to shoot but it was a big group.
"When we asked whether they had permits to visit the cave, they said yes but couldn't show any proof," he said when contacted.
"A police patrol car came over to check and it was then that the group dispersed," he said.
"We went inside the cave to check its condition and found the fossil broken, mud all over the place, and a candle on the wall," he added.
Mohd Fadly said the fossil was discovered more than a year ago.
"We did not make our findings public earlier, fearing that people would flock to the site.
"We only alerted some universities' archaeological teams about it," he said, adding that the relevant agencies would be alerted to any discoveries of wall paintings or fossils.
"The movement control order was implemented last year so not much could be done (with the discovery)," he said, adding that there were a few more fossil teeth around the cave.
Mohd Fadly said he checked with the Ipoh City Council and was informed that the group only had permission to shoot at Gunung Lang.
When asked why his team, which has been overseeing outdoor activities near the cave, did not stop the group, Mohd Fadly said they did not have the authority.
"We are not authorised to have full jurisdiction of the cave. It is still under the city council.
"It is really frustrating for us," he said, adding that Gua Matsoorat was being considered as Kinta Valley Geopark’s 19th site.
Mohd Fadly said while he was not blaming anyone for the incident, he hopes those intending to visit Gua Matsoorat in the future to engage guides to bring them around.
"I understand that people want to know more about Gua Matsoorat after news about its potential to be a geo-site was reported.
"With guides, visitors would know which part of the cave they can visit and get a better understanding of the location," he said, adding that there should also be more awareness of the importance of preserving heritage sites.