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Take a look inside the world’s largest cave

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Son Doong Cave in Vietnam – which is so big it contains a jungle and a river – is now open for public tours. But don’t expect it to become crowded: just 224 tourists will be permitted to visit this year

It’s so big you could fit a 40-storey skyscraper inside, but Son Doong cave remained undiscovered until a local man found it in 1991. Even then, no one explored beyond its vast entrance until British cavers visited in 2009. All photographs: Ran Deboodt

Ropes and harness are needed to get inside Son Doong, and any visitors will need to rappel 80 metres to reach the cave floor.

Pilot tours took place in August, but so far only 10 people have visited. Oxalis Adventures have been working closely with the government to ensure a sustainable future for the cave: this year they are able to take 224 tourists to Son Doong.

The first night of the six-day tour will see visitors camp near the Hand of Dog, a giant stalagmite said to resemble a dog paw.

Inside the cave is a huge river – but the source of it remains unknown. In March, a team from the British Cave Research Association, who first explored Son Doong, will return to try and shed more light on the cave’s many mysteries.

New species of plant have been discovered by scientists within the cave’s lush interior.

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Man’s Finest Hour

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Javan rhino ‘now extinct in Vietnam’

Genetic analysis of rhino dung samples revealed that there was only one individual left in Vietnam

A critically endangered species of rhino is now extinct in Vietnam, according to a report by conservation groups.

The WWF and the International Rhino Foundation said the country’s last Javan rhino was probably killed by poachers, as its horn had been cut off.

Experts said the news was not a surprise, as only one sighting had been recorded in Vietnam since 2008.

Fewer than 50 individuals are now estimated to remain in the wild.

“It is painful that despite significant investment in Vietnamese rhino conservation, efforts failed to save this unique animal, ” said WWF’s Vietnam director Tran Thi Minh Hien.

“Vietnam has lost part of its natural heritage.”

The authors of the report, Extinction of the Javan Rhino from Vietnam, said genetic analysis of dung samples collected between 2009-2010 in the Cat Tien National Park showed that they all belonged to just one individual.

Shortly after the survey was completed, conservationists found out that the rhino had been killed. They say it was likely to have been the work of poachers because it had been shot in a leg and its horn had been cut off.

Source: BBC News

Cat Tien National Park , a diverse landscape

Possibly the rarest large mammal on earth

The Javan Rhinoceros (Sunda Rhinoceros to be more precise) or Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) with only one known population in the wild, and none in zoos. It is possibly the rarest large mammal on earth.

Cat Tien National Park Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake)

This post has been posted simultaneously on Eco-Crap

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

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Ha Long Bay - Paradise of Nature

Ha Long Bay affords some of Vietnam’s most spectacular scenery, including beautiful limestone formations, rock arches, gin-clear water, virtually inaccessible lagoons, sheer cliffs, peaceful coves, eerie caves, secluded strips of white, powdery sand, and thousands of limestone islets.

Like sculpted cartoon characters, these islets are fancifully named: Frog Island, Face Island, the Isle of Wonders and the Isle of Surprise. Chinese junks glide over the teal-hued bay between the grottos, which are densely carpeted in neon-green ficas, mangrove and spiky cacti.

Pearl oyster farms are tucked into tight channels between the towering, limestone cliffs. Primitive floating fish hatcheries are spun across the waters between the grottos like neglected spider webs.

Source: The Wondrous

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