19 JANUARY 2011 1 of 1




We learned today that the Nakroma ferry will be out of service for at least one month, so our chances of getting one of our vehicles to Ataúro Island, to move around and conduct an extensive survey, have now vanished. We have moved to Plan B which involves making a shorter visit to Ataúro, using a smaller local boat (as we did in early 2010) to do localised collecting in the vicinity of the coast, with occasional forays further afield using a locally owned truck, if that is available. We will now delay our visit to Ataúro until early February and spend the preceding time doing fieldwork on mainland Timor.

This will consists of a 10-day circuit down to the south coast to investigate two reserves/protected areas which require herpetological inventories, working our way to Covalima District, the southwestern-most district of Timor-Leste, and the only district we have so far not visited.

Fighting crocodile statue
Crocodile warning sign in Tetum
Cristu Rei on the Fatucama Peninsula Some of the team beneath the Cristu Rei
(l-r): Joanna Flores, Scott Heacox,
Kyle Olsen, Hinrich Kaiser, Zito Afranio, Caitlin Sanchez, Robert Sewell,
David Taylor
Click images to enlarge

After shopping for supplies we visited the 27m Cristu Rei (Christ the King) statue on the Fatucama Peninsula, near Dili, the Timorese equivalent of the 38m Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue on the Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The road along the seafront contains a number of smaller figurines, not least, three fighting lafa'ek (Tetum for crocodile), a species closely associated with the ancestral history of the island of Timor, but also an ever-present threat to its inhabitants, as a Tetum sign close to the statue warns us.

The path from the car park to Cristu Rei is a slow but steady climb up 595 steps, past 14 Stations of the Cross and a 15th celebrating Christ's Ascension into Heaven, to the figure of Christ standing on a globe of the Earth at the top.

Fatucama Peninsula affords excellent views back towards Dili, along the coast to the west, and of Ataúro, but no reptiles were seen despite the rocky coastal woodland being ideal for diurnal snake-eyed skinks (Crytoblepharus) or sun skinks (Eutropis).

Looking back towards Dili from Cristu Rei