By Muhammad Syafiq Farha Abdul Razak
KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 (Bernama) -- Gunung Lanno, one of the largest mountains in Kinta Valley, Perak, with about 36 beautiful and unique limestone caves, is now threatened with quarry mining activities that have begun to affect this geoheritage site.
Recently, the beauty of Gua Air on the mountain claimed to be the only cave in Perak which has a structure to hold water and also has a path for flowing water, was affected when a quarry explosion defaced the cave.
Outdoor enthusiast Uzair Suhairi, 27, said the Perak government had to act quickly to conserve this mountain which has so many caves with various attractions, including crystal caves, a hidden world that needs to be explored.
Uzair who has explored many caves and mountains in the state said that an eco-tourism complex can be developed on this mountain for a variety of activities, including caving tours and climbing the mountain as high as 407 metres above sea level which reportedly has a wide open space the size of a football field at its peak.
“Efforts to study and document information about this mountain needs to be done immediately,” given the information that there are 36 caves on Mount Lanno according to studies conducted by local and foreign cave enthusiasts in 2001. It is possible there could be more undetected caves,” he told Bernama recently during a visit to the mountain organised by Kinta Valley Watch, a community organisation based in Ipoh.
Ipoh-born nature lover Yvonne Blake, who now lives in Scotland, does not understand why those responsible for issuing permits are allowing the mountain to be blown up as many articles have been written about the geoheritage site.
“Mount Lanno is home to s
even out of the 20 longest caves in the country, and there has been so many articles and research papers written on the mountain, and the need to conserve and preserve it, yet this special mountain has been blasted," said Yvonne who is the administrator of a public Facebook account called ‘Kinta Heritage’ dedicated to the preservation, transmission and promotion of the history, heritage and identity of the Kinta Valley.
Yvoone in her 60s said she was not against quarry activities, but what she wanted was a well-run quarry industry in Ipoh, as planned by the Perak government 10 years ago for the quarry industry to carry out their underground activities.
There are several limestone industries in Perak that operate underground quarries such as Tasek Corp in Kinta, Hume Cement in Kampar and Lhoist in Batang Padang, and “they should leave the limestone hills for us to enjoy. This is natural heritage, they cannot destroy it,” she told Bernama.
Kinta Valley which covers an area of 1,952 kilometres and stretches into the Kinta and Kampar districts, was declared a national geaopark by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah last October.
It has been reported that 18 geosites located in the area have been listed, including Gunung Lang, Gua Tambun, Gua Naga Mas, Gua Tempurung, Gunung Korbu, Jeram River, Ulu Kinta Recreational Forest, Sungai Salu Waterfall and some more.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Perak branch reported that a team of international speleologists were engaged in a speleological expedition to Gunung Lanno, Keramat Pulai, Perak, Malaysia during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Thirty six caves were discovered and documented. All of these caves were surveyed except for Gua Thai Monk, Gua Batu Pencuri and ‘Gua di tepi Tasik’, and described the discovery as a botanical wonder.
These caves are of geological, speleological, biospeleological, heritage conservation there is evidence of tin mining and cultural interests such as temple caves. Most of the discoveries were made during the international speleological expedition of 2001 to Gunung Lanno Malaysia.
As one climbs to the top of the mountain one will see various types of flora at every 100 metres, with bamboo forests and wild orchids found at the summit.
The working paper on “Conservation of ‘Gunung Lanno Cave Systems – Proposal for Geoheritage Site’ has been presented at several conferences including the National Geoscience conference 2014 in Terengganu in order to highlight the uniqueness of Gunung Lanno.
The MNS Perak Report in 2011, reported that at that time there were eight quarry companies operating at the foot of Gunung Lanno with five highly active companies.
Meanwhile, two friends, Goh Ah Poon, 61, and Gan Lim, 57, hope the Perak government takes steps to conserve Gunung Lanno.
Ipoh-born Gan who works in Kuala Lumpur said, “This is something unique and a heritage that needs to be preserved. We hope the Perak government thinks about the long-term benefits rather than short-term ones.”
Meanwhile, Goh, hoped more efforts would be taken to create awareness to preserve this beautiful geoheritage site in Ipoh.