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Caves Conservation Programme

There are 53 known caves in the PBPA, with 21 found in St. Catherine and 32 in Clarendon. Only one known cave, the Two Sisters Cave, has been commercialized and community members report several caves which are not on record.

Many of the PBPA's caves are very important, containing fossilized remains and ancient artifacts and supporting lifeforms such as bats, which provide important economic and ecological functions for Jamaica. One good example is the Jackson's Bay Cave, one of the largest known cave systems in Jamaica. The Jackson's Bay Cave is one of the few known locations of the Portland Ridge Land Frog, and the only known location of an unknown blind cave fish which was spotted in the 1960s.

Problems

Human visitors interfere with the PBPA's caves by:

  • extracting bat guano, disturbing both bats and fossil records in the process
  • using bottle torches, which introduce harmful funes to cave fauna
  • stealing Taino artefacts
  • introducing alien species such as the American Cockroach, which threatens native cave invertebrates, and the Chytrid Fungus, which threatens the lives of cave dwelling amphibians
  • clearing forested areas at the mouths of caves, which robs the cave animals of food and other life support functions

Ongoing Measures

  1. Identification and Assessment
  • development of caves database to identify priority caves and their specific requirements
  • carrying out of detailed baseline studies of Jackson's Bay caves
  • search for Jackson's Bay blind cave fish
  • Management and Conservation
    • development and application of criteria for identifying important caves
    • assessment of the management of Two Sisters Cave to ensure maximum benefits to cave fauna
  • Protection of Important Caves
    • determination of ownership of caves and their resources
    • requiring permits for guano harvesting