27 JANUARY 2011 1 of 2


SUAI, COVALIMA DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE IV: TILOMAR FOREST RESERVE

The first specimens of the day were a green-phase Emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina) and a female Timor flying lizard (Draco timoriensis), both caught on trees near the hotel. Then, acompanied by Casimiro Mendes from Timor-Leste's National Parks Department, we set out for the Tilomar Forest Reserve, which borders West Timor (Indonesia). The reserve is a large protected area that includes re-established sandalwood plantations. Leaving Suai to the west we came upon two road-killed Macklot's water pythons (Liasis mackloti). Whereas one looked like a genuine road-kill, the other was headless and was likely killed around a local house and thrown onto the road. We drove the winding road from sea level to almost 1000 m, a journey of 39 km, searching for reptiles enroute.

The sign for the Tilomar Forest Reserve
Green phase Emerald tree skink
Lamprolepis
cf. smaragdina
Road-killed Macklot's water python
Liasis mackloti
Timor monitor lizard
Varanus timoriensis
Click to enlarge images
Timor monitor lizard
Varanus timoriensis
Laca with the monitor lizard,
Benny, David & Paul in background

Searching under rocks in the forest, as we had done in the forests near Same, was fairly unproductive as every rock appeared to be home to a colony of aggressive ants. Instead, we started looking upwards. Laca spotted a Timor monitor (Varanus timoriensis) a short distance off the ground on a roadside tree, but by the time everyone had bailed out of the vehicles it had climbed to a fork well above our heads. There it stayed to watch, and Laca was able to climb up and capture it. The monitor jumped, straight into the waiting throng of herpers below.

Every herp expedition should have a Laca!

 

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