By Angel A. Acosta-Colón, Benny X. Bonet-Santiago, Joaquin Alonso Mont, Sedarta Sitepu and Ruddy Anto Sinulingga
The Batu Katak village in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, is located in the Batumilmil formation, a paleokarst that consists of dark gray to reddish gray limestone. A group of scientists from the University of Puerto Rico and Harimau Conservation explored the neighboring karst forest and mapped five caves as a conservation action, to help protect the karst forest and its geological importance. As across the rest of Sumatra, this region is impacted by palm-oil farms, illegal deforestation, poaching, and mining. The goal of this study was to verify the safety of the cave environment and establish the cartography of the caves that surround the village: Water Cave (~901 m, 59.5M data points), Pupuk Mentar Cave (~121 m, 22.9M data points), Mbelin Cave (~100 m, 15.7M data points), Sibayak Cave (~36 m, 10.2M data points), and Jodoh Cave (~45 m, 6.8M data points). The maps were created using the Geoslam ZEB1 LiDAR. A total of 1.2 km of cave passage were surveyed, with 126.6 million data points collected. These cave maps are used for sustainable ecotourism and to understand the karst biodiversity including trogloxenes (bats, snakes, cave swallows, and many more) and the Sumatran tiger, a critically endangered species that, based on physical evidence during this study, used one of the caves as habitat.
- Angel A. Acosta-Colón, Physics and Chemistry Department, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, Arecibo PR 00614
- Benny X. Bonet-Santiago, Biology Department, University of Puerto Rico at Humacao, Humacao, PR 00792
- Joaquin Alonso Mont, Harimau Conservation, San Juan, PR 00911
- Ruddy Anto Sinulingga, Harimau Conservation, San Juan, PR 00911
- Sedarta Sitepu, Harimau Conservation, San Juan, PR 00911