North Borneo
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Gomantong Cave
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Sabah : : Gomantong Cave
   Described by WWF as "the best managed edible birds' nest cave in the world", Gomantong Caves has been the focus for birds' nests for centuries. Historical records have traced it as a source of this precious delicacy to the Chinese Emperor centuries ago.
   Of the two cave complexes, Simud Hitam (Black Nest Cave) is the more accessible. It has a large chamber 30 m wide and 100 m high in places, and produces 'black' nests, made of the swiftlets' hardened saliva mixed with feathers. The larger but less accessible Simud Puteh Cave produces the more valuable 'white' nests made of pure saliva.
   Harvesting is now regulated by the Wildlife Department to avoid over-exploitation which only allows the collection twice yearly. Two harvesting periods – between February and April, when the nests are first harvested just after the birds have built them. And between July and September, when the new revuilt nests, are abondoned after eggs have been laid and hatched – skilled collectors climbing to the roof of these cave complexes in a dangerous operation using only rattan ladders, ropes and poles precariously attached together.
   A fascinating sight is the daily exodus of over a million bats that spiral out of the caves from 5.15 p.m. onwards to forage for insects, at about the same time the swiftlets are making their way back from their feeding.
   The Gomantong Caves is home to a rich range of birds with crested sepent eagles, kingfishers, asian fairy bluebirds and leafbirds.
tarap workz 1998-2005