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About Gunung Mulu
 


'Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.’ 
United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Considering Mulu’s spectacular scenery and its biological significance, it was not surprising that Mulu was successfully listed as a World Heritage site in November 2000. To qualify for world heritage status a park must meet one of the four following criteria:

  • Be an outstanding example of the world’s geological history.
  • Be an outstanding representative example of on-going evolutionary processes.
  • Be of exceptional natural beauty.
  • Contain significant natural habitat for in-situ conservation of biological diversity and the protection of threatened species

Mulu meets all four of these:-

Earth’s history and geological features
… Mulu’s concentration of caves, its geomorphic and structural characteristics are an outstanding resource, which allows a greater understanding of Earth’s history.

Ecological Processes
… Mulu provides outstanding scientific opportunities to study theories on the origins of cave faunas.

Superlative natural phenomena or natural beauty and aesthetic importance
… Mulu has outstanding scenic values, including the natural phenomenon of millions of bats and swiftlets leaving and entering the caves is a superlative wildlife spectacle.

Biodiversity and threatened species
… Mulu provides significant natural habitat for a wide range of plant and animal diversity both above and below ground.

World Heritage status has created renewed interest in the park and a genuine desire of the government and people of Malaysia to ensure it is adequately protected. Accordingly, the Sarawak Government has committed to developing world leading conservation practices and high quality nature-based tourism activities at Mulu and has committed considerable resources to ensure its goals are achieved.

http://www.mulucaves.org
http://www.wildernesslectures.com

 



 
GEODIVERSITY ..........................................................................................................................................................
Mulu’s Geo-diversity

Vertical cliffs and incredibly steep slopes reach summit ridges
before dropping abruptly down to deep gorges and hidden valleys.

Jagged limestone pinnacles, bleached white, spear out of the lush green canopy.

Cave passages twist and wind their way through the mountains, opening into chambers
so large they defy description and dwarf you into insignificance.

In landscapes like these we must look to the past to understand what we see today.

Around 60 million years ago deep beneath the sea, one piece of the Earth’s crust began to slide up and over another piece of the Earth’s crust. For 20 million years rock grinding against rock produced a 5 km thick layer of sand which became cemented together as a deposit of sandstone known geologically as the ‘Mulu Formation’, but 40 million years ago it was still beneath an ancient sea teeming with sea life. Coral reef lagoons developed and over another 20 million years these lagoons were filled with layer upon layer of calcium carbonate mud formed from the soluble minerals found in seawater. Mixed with millions upon millions of minute sea shells the layers of calcium carbonate were compressed to become a 1,500 metre thick deposit of limestone known geologically as the ‘Melinau Formation’ and like all limestone it was formed in sea-water and it dissolves in fresh-water.

When the movement of the Australian and Asian landmasses caused the earth’s surface to buckle and fold about 5 million years ago, these sandstone and limestone formations were lifted high above the sea to create the mountains of Mulu and the relentless process of weathering by the elements now began to shape the landscape we see today.

As the rain falls on these limestone mountains, it passes through the soil and into the very small pores and cracks found in the limestone. Seeping and trickling through the limestone, the water gradually dissolves the rock, making these pores and cracks larger and larger to create a remarkable series of cave chambers and passages.

And here at Mulu you’ll find the biggest caves in the World!

 

 

 
BIODIVERSITY .............................................................................................................................................................

Here in the heart of wondrous Borneo, you will be amazed by the rainforest around you.  In the humid heat, plant life flourishes everywhere.  Many thousands of species of ferns, mosses and flowering plants along with thousands of species of fungi thrive in this complex habitat.

52,000 Hectares of spectacular equatorial rainforest presents visitors to Gunung Mulu World Heritage Area with an outstanding diversity of flora and fauna.  This is home to many fauna species from the World’s smallest mammal, the Savi's Pigmy Shrew, to some of the largest insects on Earth.  In the dense foliage secretive macaques, bearded pigs and moon rats hide, blending in so well that we rarely see them among the tall towering trees blocking out the sky with their dense canopy. Richly coloured butterflies glide among trees entwined with lianas, ferns and orchids.  The ground is a thick mat of leaves and fresh new seedlings struggling to find their own space.  The heartbeat of life is all around you, plants and animals, living, eating and dying.

Strangler figs, spread by fruit-eating birds, begin life germinating high in the canopy.  Growing quickly in the sunlight the Strangler sends a shoot down to the ground and then starts to surround the host tree,  becoming larger and stronger as it clings to every surface available, strangling the tree in its death grip.  Finally, the tree will die and rot away, leaving the fig standing as a shell of the tree’s former shape.

Watch out for the rattan, a thorny vine reaching for the sun, it entwines its way for up to 1000 metres through the trees.  This is an important plant used in weaving by the local people, but for the unwary, it’s a painful meeting.

 

 

The air is rich with the perfume of 170 species of wild orchids.  If you are lucky you will see the famous Slipper Orchids, or you may spot the curious shaped pitcher plants. Mulu is home to 10 species of these insectivorous plants which supplement their diet by eating visiting insects.


Some plants use animals in other ways. One species of ginger, flowers at ground level and exudes a pungent smell. Beetles rolling balls of dung, in which they will later lay their egg, are fooled into thinking there is fresh dung and eagerly seek it out.

The beetle gets no dung, but the flower does get pollinated.

But why is Mulu so diverse?

First there’s the topography with the landscape ranging in altitude from just 50 metres above sea level near park headquarters to the peaks of Gunung Mulu at 2,377 metres, and then we have the unique underground environments of the caves.  Combine this with a geology of alluvial clays, sandstone and limestone formations to produce dozens of niches and specialist environments for both plants and animals.

 

 




 
MEET THE PEOPLE OF MULU ..........................................................................................................................................

Lun Bawang, Murut and Iban to the north, Kelabit in the south east, Berawan and Penan to the south and some nomadic Penan within the boundaries of the park; all have lived in this rainforest for millennia.

These Orang Ulu or ‘up river’ people are a diverse group of many cultures share a remarkable understanding of the rainforest which they have used for generations for their food, medicines, tool making and building shelters 

 

 

Rivers are not only the lifeblood of the rainforest and the caves but also for the people of Mulu.  Longhouse life centres around the Melinau and Tutoh Rivers for transport, washing, food, play and for simply watching the world go by.  Travelling along the Melinau to Wind and Clearwater Caves gives visitors great insight into the everyday activities of these communities. 

You can stop by at the Batu Bungan handicraft market on your way up-river to visit the Cave of the Winds and Clearwater Cave or you arrange a boat to take you downstream to the larger Tutoh River and visit the Penan community of Long Iman to learn about how medicinal plants are used even today. They too have a handicraft market or you can arrange for one of the local people to take you on a forest walk to the beautiful Long Iman waterfall.

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
       
       
 
   
 
   
     
     
     
     
     
       
 
   
       
 
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        © Borsarmulu Park Management Sdn Bhd (145983-K). All rights reserved 2007.