Deer Cave: A Bats’ World In Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu Deer Cave

Deer Cave @ Mulu National Park

By Nurul Halawati Azhari

MULU (Sarawak), Jan 11 (Bernama) — It was twilight and the entrance to the Deer Cave at the Mulu National Park was dusky.

While the rain had just stopped adding to the chill of the mountain air, a group of eager visitors took a vantage position some distance away from the mouth of the cave waiting to witness one of nature’s wonders about to unravel.

The cameras lenses were trained to the empty and silent sky above, with the vertical limestone walls of Mulu partially in view. Then suddenly a burst of cacophony was heard before thousands of dark spots spiraled into the half-lit sky from the mouth of the cave.

What is seen as a rising twister from a distant is actually hundreds and thousands of bats making their way to feed. From the initial spiral configuration, they then flew in a horizontal formation and then started circling like a whirlpool in the sky.

This nocturnal mammals then broke up into smaller groups and flew in numerous formations in the otherwise empty and dark sky.


Though bats lead solitary lives, they move in groups to look for food so that they are not vulnerable to predators. Bats could travel up to 70 kilometers to look for food and while in the jungle they go on separate ways and even return alone to their nest.

Richard Burong, the tour guide from Tropical Adventure who led the group, pointed out that before getting out of the cave the bats start the rhythm for the exodus.

It normally starts with one bat circling within the cave and slowly followed by the hundreds and thousands or even millions in a maneuver to push the weaker ones outside the circle.

“Imagine the din and the swarm within the cave when up to three million bats start flying in circles.

“Even before they make their way out of the cave predators, especially the eagle and owl, are already waiting outside for an easy meal. And the weaker ones outside the circle are the most vulnerable”, Richard explained.


It was a great one time experience to witness the bats emerging out of the Deer Cave in unbelievable numbers. However, bats are not the only attraction at this world heritage site.

The Deer Cave derives its name from hunters who were familiar with the place. The cave is said to be a favourite gathering site for the deer and other animals as the water there is rich in mineral. As the deer started congregating at the place, so did the hunters.

As they were the target of the hunters, the number of deer in the cave dwindled with time but locals say the deer still appear there to look for mineral.


The Deer Cave being a part of UNESCO heritage list has the biggest limestone cavity, and can accommodate five of the St.Paul’s Cathedral in London.

A 3.4 kilometre jungle canopy covered track leading to the cave makes accessibility easy.

To the left and the right, stalactite and stalagmite adorn the roof and floor, some in the form of columns that took hundreds and millions of years to form.

Interestingly, visitors to the cave can witness a natural limestone profile at the top opening in the cave that resembles the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. The gradual erosion of the limestone created a side profile that resembled Lincoln!

Apart from the limestone formations, visitors can also learn the flora and fauna of the cave.


Deer cave is located about 100 km to the east of Miri and is accessible through bus or car from Miri to Marudi. From Marudi, visitors have to take a boat ride along Baram River and stop at Long Terawan. From Long Terawan it takes another 45 minutes by long boat to Mulu National Park.

To cut the trip short, MasWings provides three daily flights from Miri to Mulu International Airport where it takes 25 minutes to reach.

Apart from the Deer Cave visitors can also explore other caves like the Gua Lang, Gua Angin, Gua Air Jerneh, and participate in endurance activities like hiking to the Mulu Pinnacle.

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