Unique bat species in Europe and rupestral paintings, tourist attractions in western country caves

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The cave with rupestral paintings in Cuciulat and the cave with three bat species, unique in Europe, in Magurici, are the best known caves in Salaj (northwest of Bucharest, in Transylvania), both nationally and internationally, although both are closed to the large public access, in order to protect the paintings, and respectively the rare species of bats.

The cave of Cuciulat was known to the locals since before World War I, but 1978 would become the starting „zero time” in the chronology of speleologists, archaeologists and specialists in rupestral art work, when a team of speleologists from „Emil Racovita” Club explored the cave, noting the existence in one of the cave chambers of some rupestral paintings, depicting the silhouette of a horse.

The „small horse” silhouette is 24.5 cm long, 12.5 cm tall respectively, and is painted in a brick-red color, without having the outline inserted through incision in the rocky wall. The silhouette is realistic, its position on the wall suggesting a pause in the run. Other figures, unfortunately far worse preserved, were also seen. They are the silhouette of a cat, another figure vaguely reminding of a human being, then the representation of a bird and another representation of a horse. The chemical analysis of the paintings established they were made from a clay rich in iron oxides. Moreover, a lump of this raw material was discovered in a neighboring chamber”, Ioan Bejinariu, scientific researcher with the County Museum of History and Art in Zalau.

According to him, based on analogies with other discoveries of this kind in Europe, it was appreciated that the cave drawings in Cuciulat were made at about the end of the Paleolithic, more specifically about 12,000 years ago.

„For a long time – more precisely until 2009, when paintings were discovered in Coliboaia cave, Bihor – the rupestral paintings in the cave of Cuciulat represented the only testimony and the oldest form of parietal art, not only in Romania, but also on a larger area of Central Europe”, added Bejinariu.

The second cave, in Magurici, shelters some rare bat species, as well as some mineralogical rarities nationwide and worldwide. The local administration of Ileanda commune already received the approval and is waiting for the signing of a European financing project called „Concrete measures for the protection and conservation of bats in Natura 2000 sit – Magurici cave”.

„In the cave of Magurici three bat species, unique in Europe, live, and this project is focused on protecting these species, but also on valorizing them in terms of tourism. Since the cave access is forbidden, video cameras will be mounted and those interested in can watch the bats activity in a space that we will arrange in Ileanda „, Petru Satmari, the Mayor of Ileanda commune.

The Magurici cave is a protected natural area of community interest, an integral part of the European ecological network Natura 2000 in Romania.(National News Agency AGERPRES)

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