27 January 2012 1 of 1




Tomorrow we leave for Ataúro Island, the largest of Timor-Leste's two offshore territories and the main target location for Phase VI of the herpetological survey. That meant we really had to concentrate on getting our mainland specimens prepped, documented and photographed. This included a couple of snakes caught around the TLH accommodation, a juvenile Island wolfsnake (Lycodon capucinus) captured by the students near their chalets two nights earlier, and a tiny Brahminy blindsnake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) found on the floor in the entrance to my room. I was able to photograph this tiny snake, no thicker than the lead of a pencil, using my Canon MP-E65mm macro lens and obtain detailed photographs of its head scalation and the photosensitive eye-spots which are located under translucent scales.

Island wolfsnake,
Lycodon capucinus
Brahminy blindsnake,
Ramphotyphlops braminus

We also had to sort and prepare all our equipment for a week of intensive fieldwork, which included an animated discussion about the best design of a trap for Ataúro monitor lizards (Varanus sp.) and the visit to the hardware store to sort out the required parts. Perhaps most importantly, our second Troopie needed fitting with a roof-rack. Up until today we had only one of the two Toyota Troop Carriers we usually use in Timor-Leste, so I had been driving a Hilux. Rentló had located a second Troopie and a roof rack but unfortunately no brackets to attach it were available. With considerable ingenuity, workshop manager Russell's boys manufactured six brackets and fitted the roof rack by the end of the day so we were able to load out heavier boxes in readiness for an early start in the morning.