New caves discovered in Jaintia Hills expedition in Meghalaya, India

35 new caves were discovered by the ‘Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition’ team in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. The group mapped out and explored 15.3 km of new cave area in the regions of Umkrypong and Lakadong. The team was put together by the Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association (MAA).

In an interview with The Shillong Times, Brian D. Kharpran Daly, general secretary of MAA said that this year’s team consisted of 32 cavers. Among them were international cavers from countries like Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, the US, the UK and local members of MAA. The exploration team was also joined by 5 associated scientists from Shillong, the UK, Romania and Switzerland. The association has been organizing the ‘Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition’ over the last 23 years.

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The expedition was a 25-day survey which started on February 2 and lasted till February 26; it was divided in two time periods. The first one was a week-long phase from February 2 to 8, during which the Umkrypong area was combed. It was then that the cavers discovered 8 new caves and further explored new passages of 2 previously known caves. They successfully mapped 6 out of the 8 new caves here. From February 9 to 26, the group focused their activity in East Jaintia Hills in the Lakadong region, mapping 35 new caves and 4 already known ones.

The researchers who included zoologists from Acharya Nagarjuna University, Lady Keane College, biologists from the UK and Romania and a bat expert from Switzerland conducted biospeleological (dealing with cave-dwelling organisms) studies and sampling during the 25-day period. They mainly observed the bat species and aquatic animals here, and might have captured a few that may be new to this region.

Meghalaya, translated as ‘Abode of Clouds’ has over 1500 caves, out of which almost 1000 are completely or partially documented. It also has the longest cave in the India, the Krem Liat Prah; located in the Jaintia Hills of this state.