24 JANUARY 2011 2 of 2


FATUCAHI to SAME,
MANUFAHI DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE IV: ON THE ROAD AGAIN
cont.

Most of the road to Same was fairly good but there were a few spots where it was in serious need of repair!

Where did the road go ? Up and over !
Click on images to enlarge

In Same we were able to get rooms in the Ailelehun hotel, the same place where we had based ourselves in 2009, and after a visit to the market and lunch, part of the team set off to recce the Trilolo River for a night hunt.

Our two Troopies outside the Ailelehun Hotel

In the evening we returned to the river in light rain to search for herps. In 2009 we collected a new species of bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp.) on the Trilolo River at Same, and missed an unidentified snake. This time the heavens opened while we were on the river, forcing our retreat with only one specimen - but a very important specimen.

Timor blindsnake
Ramphotyphlops polygrammicus

The only other Timor blindsnake (Ramphotyphlops polygrammicus) I have captured was in the southern Trans-Fly region of Western Province, Papua New Guinea in 1986. Twenty-five years later I was looking at a second specimen, which was climbing up the wet rocky cliff alongside the path we were taking down to the Trilolo River. Blindsnakes, with the exception of the introduced, parthenogenetic Brahminy blindsnake (R. braminus), are usually rare and always special finds. These most primitive of snakes are not actually blind. They possess pigmented areas overlain by large translucent head scales, which probably help them determine when they are exposed to the light. Fossorial burrowers, they live secret lives feeding on similarily fossorial invertebrates.

The Timor blindsnake has been recorded from Timor-Leste previously, in fact Timor and not PNG is the type locality, but it is poorly known. This was a very important find both for the project and personally.