28 June 2011 1 of 3


JACO IS., LAUTÉM DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 

 

TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE V: TO JACO AND BUST
(page 1)

Our plan was for an early start to drive to Tutuala Beach and cross over to Jaco Island on local boats but things did not quite pan out that way, fate had some surprises in store for us today.

The first surprise involved the fuel gauges on my Troopie. The night before the main tank read 1/8 full while the sub tank read 2/3 full (I had switched to sub that morning) but this morning the main tank read full and the sub read empty. "Faulty gauges" said Hinrich, "let's go".

So we went, but we did not get far, my vehicle stopped dead on the limestone plateau not ten kms from Com, so we abandoned it and continued in Hinrich's vehicle, something I did not argue about as I was feeling somewhat under the weather, with a hacking cough, extremely sore throat and general malaise.

We continued, north of Lake Ira Lalaro, through Mehara and Tutuala, to Tutuala Beach, the roughest stretch of the road being the last 8 km from Tutuala down to the coast, which we had last driven in 2009.

We would not forget that journey in a hurry, both Hinrich and I had been stung by buthid scorpions (Lychas mucronatus) and had suffered considerable pain and discomfort. We were using only one vehicle then and I had driven it back to Tutuala Beach, my discomforture eased only by the more pained look on Hinrich's face!.

 

 

Jaco Island from Tutuala Beach,a seven minute boat ride away.
click to enlarge image

At Tutuala Beach we turned right for the fisherman's village, not left for Valu Sere where we had stayed in 2009. It took two trips to get the team of nine and three guide/boatmen across to Jaco Island, the smaller of Tim0r-Leste's two islands. Jaco is uninhabited and managed as a sacred reserve by the local people, visitors being allowed to visit but not camp or collect anything on the island except by special permission of the local guides who act as keepers of this beautiful spot. There are reports of an old Portuguese fort on the far side of the island but we did not have time on this trip, which served really as a short recce, to travel that far. Personally I did not feel up to trekking anywhere and remained on the beach with a walkie talkie while the other eight split up into two groups with a guide each.

Traveling to Jaco Island Habitat on Jaco Island

The plan was to herp for two hours, then return to the mainland and drive back to Com but Marissa was also still feeling unwell and she and David joined me back on the beach after about an hour. Half an hour later the others returned with their captures.