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Berliner Höhlenkundliche Berichte, Volume 53: Caves of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Exploration, Science and History


Series: Berliner Höhlenkundliche Berichte Volume: 53

By: Jean G Shaw (Author)

152 pages, maps

Speläoclub Berlin

Paperback | Jan 2013 | #213932
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £14.99 $18/€17 approx

About this book

Language: English

In trying to organize a bibliography of the caves in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under their various names, the author came across several problems. Many cave names were similar but not exactly the same and a few had changed to the vernacular since the end of Belgian rule. Unaware of the amount of time it would take to unravel these problems, the author began to look for solutions by reading some of the publications involved. It soon became clear that this was a much larger task than had been originally envisaged. Many of the key publications were not widely available. Several libraries and collections in the United Kingdom and some in Belgium were consulted. In view of this it seemed sensible to broaden the scope of what had originally been regarded as a simple bibliography to include:
- some of the relevant information from the publications the author had read;
- bring together the more important facts about the caves themselves;
- and since, much of the literature is in French, to make the information more available to English-speaking speleologists.

This work started from the curiosity aroused from pictures and cave descriptions in a series of guide books – Guide du Voyageur au Congo Belge & au Ruanda Urundi, referred to in the text as “Guide”. Clarification was sought from the existing unpublished cave catalogues/bibliographies of Trevor Shaw and Ray Mansfield; later it was augmented by the Atlas of the Great Caves and the Karst of Africa by Michael Laumanns, initially published in 2002 and expanded in the 2nd edition of 2008. The Atlases bring together factual information about caves along with topographical, geological and karst location maps, and are a source of some of the cave plans published by others. The 2008 edition contains a list of caves compiled by Michel Anciaux de Faveaux in 2002.

The central focus of this publication is on speleology and karst studies including the early exploration of the country by Capitaine Charles Lemaire and ending with more recent authors to whom this publication is greatly indebted: Michel Anciaux de Faveaux (Dom Félix Anciaux de Faveaux), N.Leleup, Roland Buffard, Yves Quinif, Raymond Michel, K.Muamba, Nama ya Badi Tshidibi and George A. Brook and his collaborators, among many others.

Early interest in caves by explorers in the late 19th and in the 20th century (until the Belgian Congo gained its independence in 1960) has given rise to the bulk of printed descriptions. Conflicts in various part of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo have severely restricted further exploration and study, so that the literature from independence to date is very thin. More importantly, conflict has all but destroyed the old infrastructure. Thus the careful instructions of those writing in the first periods of exploration are unlikely to be very useful on the ground. This is vividly illustrated by Tim Butcher in his book Blood River, tracing Stanley’s initial journey across the ‘Black Continent’. Roads once passable by motor vehicles no longer exist in any meaningful sense; even the important railway from Lubumbashi to Kindu was so overgrown around Kibombo as to be almost unrecognisable. It raises the question as to how useful most of the locational information included here might be. In some instances there are grid references, but in others many of the roads and tracks are no longer likely to exist. Nevertheless, the author hopes that drawing together some of the previous information will enable future speleological investigations to start with a firm base of knowledge at their disposal.


Dedication / Acknowledgements 6
Introduction 6
Musee Royal De L'afrique Centrale, Tervuren 7
Coverage Of Biology And Archaeology 7
Cave Names 10
Arrangement Of The Caves 10
Maps 10
Katanga 11
Introduction 11
Inventaire 13
Karst And Geology 14
Archaeology 17
Fauna 17
Arrangement Of The Cave Descriptions 18
The Lubilash/lubilanji–sankuru Basin 19
The Lomami Basin 20
The Lualaba Basin 20
Close To The Watershed Between The Lualaba And Lufira Basins 35
The Lufira River Basin 39
Luapula Basin 61
Southern End Of Lake Tanganyika 61
Unidentified Caves In Or Said To Be In Katanga 62
Maps 62
Regions Du Kasai — Occidental Et Oriental 63
Introduction 63
Karst Studies 64
Probable Karst Phenomena 65
River Lubi 66
River Lubilanji Formerly "Lubilashi" 66
Mbuji–mayi River 67
River Lubefu 69
Lukenie River 70
Sankuru River 70
Maps 70
Kivu 71
Volcanic Caves 71
Other Caves 71
Semliki Plain 72
Near Lubero 72
Near Kalehe 72
Near Bukavu 73
Uvira Territory 73
Kasongo–maniema District 73
Unknown Location 74
Maps 74
Bandundu 75
Kongo Central 75
Introduction 75
Fauna 77
Archaeology 79
Karst Studies 79
The Caves 81
Sector I — The Mbanza Ngungu Plateau And Gombe Nord 81
Sector II — Luvaka / Gombe Sud 98
Sector III (Heuts & Leleup 1954) 100
Kimpese–kwilu–ngongo Area 101
Kwilu River Basin 103
The Lovo Area 104
River Lubuzi 110
On Or Near The River Congo 110
South Of Kinshasa 112
Maps 113
Equateur 114
Ubangi 114
Tshuapa 114
Maps 115
Region Orientale 116
Introduction 116
Bas Uele 116
Opienge 116
Edaye 117
Nduye 117
Kisangani 118
Mont Hoyo 119
Fauna 121
Karst And Palaeoclimate Studies 123
Caves 126
Maps 133
References 133
Index I Cave Names And Their Synonyms 146
Index II Notation In Inventaire (1959) — Mostly Katanga 151
Index III   Notation In Congo Central 1954      152

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