Thursday, 4 September 2014

Cave Adventure

The country of Namibia is a geologist's paradise, and Neuras with its Fountains, Canyon and Mountain range has plenty to keep them busy. Neuras has a unique cave system near our "Honey Canyon" that only two research teams have explored, once in 1995 and another in 2010. The full "labyrinth" like system was measured at 457 metres, reaching a depth of around 20 metres. Very few species were discovered with the most common inhabitant being the Loxosceles spider followed by bat species.

The reason very few have ever entered the cave is that getting inside is not straight forward as the entrance is a thin crack with a 5/6m drop to the cave floor. However, N/a'an ku se's directors Marlice and Rudie van Vuuren came to visit Neuras with their family a couple of weeks ago and curiosity finally got the better of them and a plan was made to enter the cave.

Myself, Kate and our excited volunteers signed up for the adventure and headed to the entrance, where those with a fear of heights started to have second thoughts! With the use of a car winch and a sturdy rope Marlice lead the way and demonstrated how it could be done (clearly having learned a thing or two from the baboons over the years!) and one by one we braved the descent. 
Once inside, the passage way extended only a few metres before narrowing to a small hole leading to a narrow passage where only two at a time could enter. If anyone head any sense of claustrophobia this was when it started to set in, a sense of dread probably not helped by the presence of a long dead cave guardian!
The narrow passage continued for another 10 metres opening into a chamber where the heat rose dramatically with Geckos crawling on the walls and where we found the bats!
It was an amazing sight and we could see the chamber continuing downwards where another hole lead to a further drop deeper into the ground. However, as tempting as it was to continue exploring, to proceed professional climbing equipment would be needed as one slip would result in a pretty nasty fall.

The next challenge was getting back out which proved slightly more difficult than getting down! But with a bit of team work and support everyone emerged safe and sound and buzzing from the experience!

1 comment:

  1. Great story! Would you add your bat photos as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:

    AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

    Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

    Many thanks!