25 June 2013 1 of 2

TIMOR-LESTE (Raça, Lautém District)



During the night it rained heavily again, so our plans to visit Jaco Island were postponed, it required a short but potentially hazardous crossing in small boats and the rain and high winds made it unsafe. Instead we decided to head to Raça, a village on the limestone plateau above Com where, on a previous phase, we had collected geckos (Cyrtodactylus) and skinks (Sphenomorphus) in the caves. This time we had a specific goal. One the walk back down last time we had crossed a coarse meadow scattered with lumps of limestone and under one of these we had sighted, but failed to capture, a skink we believed belonged to the genus Eremiascincus. So we set off for Raça hoping to bag a specimen. Raça is also Laca's home village so we are always made very welcome.

When we arrived Hinrich told me he felt too unwell to join up on the hike to the meadows so he would remain in the lead Troopie, while I took the group up to look for the skink. In the end all we caught were a few Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) before the heaven's opened again, calling a halt to our search.

Raça village - Laca's home The rocky meadows above Raça
Common house gecko
Hemidactylus frenatus
The team returns soaked through

In the afternoon the sun was out again and it was again pleasant and hot. Laca had rescued a young Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which we had brought with us, intending to release it on Jaco Island, an uninhabited spirit island where we had previously found a hawksbill carapace. But it was becoming clear that due to the weather and Hinrich's illness we probably would not get to Jaco, so we elected to release the turtle into the sea from the beach at the Com Beach Resort.

Hawksbill sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata
The author with the sea turtle prior to release

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