TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE IV: OUT TO THE ISLAND
Timor-Leste comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor; the Oecusse exclave, located on the northern coast of Indonesian West Timor; the tiny island of Jaco, off the eastern tip of the island of Timor; and Ataúro Island to the north of Dili. The first three of these territories are located firmly in the Outer Banda Arc of the Lesser Sundas, with Roti and Sumba islands of Indonesia, but Ataúro is in the northern, Inner Banda Arc, along with the Indonesian islands of Sumbawa, the Komodo Archipelago, Flores, Pantar, Adonara, Alor and Wetar. This means its geology, flora and fauna, are more closely related to that of Flores and Alor than Timor to the south. Ataúro Island is therefore of particular interest to the VVC herp survey team as it potentially offers us different species from those of Timor-Leste proper, to which end we first visited the island in 2010 and collected a new species of Bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp.).
We had hoped to travel to Ataúro using the Nakroma ferry and take over one of the Troopies to give us more freedom of movement on the island, but that option evaporated at the start of Phase IV. So we said goodbye to our two trusty work-horses and resorted to the same local boat we used in 2010. We left in the morning while the sea was still calm and made the Tua Ko'in Eco-Resert in around three hours. It was a pleasant, if diesel-scented journey.
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