Map I Treks
& Trails I Getting
Settlements I Visiting
The Park I The
Great Cave I
Cave I Birds
Wildlife and The Rainforest
The guano collectors are not the only people who earn a living
from the cave. Strategically positioned bamboo poles and ladders
are evidence of the birds nest collectors, local people who have
practised this dangerous accupation for generations. The half
million swiftlets that live in the cave make their nests purely
from their own salivary secretions, and when the nests are cleaned
and cooked they produce the famous birds nest soup, which is as
highly regarded in Chinese cuisine as caviar is in the West.
Collecting the nests from the cave ceiling is a dangerous job,
and fatalities are not uncommon, but the price of birds nests
is so high (over US$1,000 per kilo for the best quality) that
the risks seem worthwhile. Obviously such a valuable commodity
is a magnet for poachers, and over-collection is a constant worry.
Therefore the caves are constantly monitored by park wardens,
to deter illegal collectors.
The passage at the back of the Great Cave leads to a large chamber
known as the Padang, where shafts of sunlight stream down from
large holes in the cave roof to illuminate the bizarre rock formations
in the Burnt Cave. This is another excellent spot for taking photos.
After the Padang, the cave passage becomes pitch black, and it
is here that you will need the flashlight, not only to find your
way along the plankwalk, but to view the extraordinary shapes
and weathering effects found in the Moon Cave.