New Year in Siju Cave: the RGS Expedition Has Started Its Work in India

Комплексная экспедиция Русского географического общества в северо-восточные индийские штаты Аруначал-Прадеш, Мегхалая и Нагаленд началась 27 декабря 2022 года.
Комплексная экспедиция РГО в северо-восточные индийские штаты Аруначал-Прадеш, Мегхалая и Нагаленд началась 27 декабря 2022 года. Фото: © Леонид Круглов

The complex expedition of the Russian Geographical Society has started in India. Its participants reached the state of Meghalaya and began exploring in Siju Cave.

"The area is very interesting," Leonid Kruglov, a member of the expedition, shares his first impressions. "It borders Laos and Myanmar. There are jungles, tropical flora, a lot of animals, birds. Siju Cave is huge, deep, with many branches. So far we have been able to move only one kilometer deep. Then the system of multiple branches begins. If possible, we will go there, although it is very difficult. Already we found a huge number of interesting objects on the first kilometer: crustaceans, arachnids, insects. We are sure that discoveries are waiting for us."

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Участники экспедиции достигли индийского штата Мегхалая и готовятся к изучению пещеры Сиджу. Фото участников экспедиции

"The cave is visited quite often, researches is carried out there," - continues Natalia Kuznetsova, professor of the Department of Zoology and Ecology of the Moscow Pedagogical State University. "The interest of our group is to study small organisms that attract attention rarely, but nevertheless represent a huge diverse world. These are groups of protists, small arthropods. We will also take samples of large objects. These are various crustaceans: cave-dwelling crayfish, shrimp, crabs. They are interesting there - white, long-mustached, very picturesque. It would seem that large objects are well studied, but they have almost never been considered from the point of view of their genetics, so we will conduct molecular biological studies. Firstly, it will significantly supplement our knowledge of large objects, and secondly, the data obtained will contribute to the discovery of new species."

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Экспедиция РГО будет изучать мелкие организмы, которые представляют огромный разнообразный мир. Фото участников экспедиции

"Indeed, there is a possibility that we will discover new species," says Maxim Kulikovsky, Doctor of Biological Sciences, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Systematics of Aquatic Plants at the Institute of Plant Physiology. "The fact is that this territory is underexplored, as well as the regions around. And in neighboring countries, new species are being described, including from the group we are studying. We assume that the resulting material will be extremely interesting. Of course, using different approaches will allow you to find and describe new taxa. And, most importantly, not only to describe, but also to complement the phylogeny, the evolution of various groups."

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Пещера Сиджу скрывает много тайн. Фото участников экспедиции

"We also conduct research in the field of ecology and sustainable development," says Anton Yurmanov, expedition leader, biogeographer, Director of the Youth Work Department of the Russian Geographical Society. "This region is actively developing, including in terms of agriculture. Areca palms are found everywhere, under the plantations of which forests are being burned, and, in fact, this is slash-and-burn agriculture. We study  how these processes affect the environment, local biodiversity. Of course, we conduct all the research together with our Indian colleagues."

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Антон Юрманов, руководитель экспедиции, биогеограф, директор Департамента по работе с молодежью Русского географического общества, обсуждает рабочие планы с индийским специалистом.

Russian Geographical Society expedition members celebrated the New Year in Siju cave, where they conducted scientific work and recorded a video greeting addressed to members of the Russian Geographical Society, activists of the Youth Clubs of the RGS and all researchers.

About the expedition

The Russian Geographical Society's complex expedition to the northeastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland began on December 27, 2022. It is the first complex expedition in the history of the Society to a underinvestigated area of India. Although, previously conducted research within the framework of research trips of members of the Society brought important scientific discoveries, but they did not have such a scale and variety of tasks. At the moment, the expedition to north-east India is a unique project reviving the study of the Himalayan foothills by the Russian Geographical Society and its associates and creating an important platform for further projects of the Society abroad in special climatic and ethno-cultural conditions.

The purpose of the expedition. Creation of a promising scientific direction for the annual expeditions of the Russian Geographical Society to the Indian Himalayas, as well as conducting comprehensive studies of natural, historical, cultural and military-historical objects of the studied territories of scientific interest.

The main tasks. Conducting ecological, biological, geographical, geological, ethnographic (among the Adi, Mishmi, Cognac tribes) research, search activities to identify the crash sites of Allied military aircraft in 1943-1945.

The venue. The Republic of India, the Tadjourah region, the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Anton Yurmanov, expedition leader, biogeographer, Director of the Youth Work  Department of the Russian Geographical Society: "An example for us is Andrey Evgenievich Snesarev, a military geographer, orientalist and a full member of the RGS, who studied the territories between Russian Turkestan and India, the Amur principalities of Hunza and Nagar, the principality of Gilgit, the upper course of the Indus at the beginning of the 20th century. We are facing a very unusual scientific task to study this region, this is a unique opportunity for scientists."