30 January 2012 1 of 2


ATAÚRO IS., DILI DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE VI: OF MONITORS AND GECKOS

The smallest lizards on Ataúro are geckos, the largest are monitor lizards, and we were on the trail of new species of each. The gecko is the bent-toed gecko on Mt Manucoco but the monitor is a coastal species we had chased and lost in the swamp on a previous visit to the island. This time we planned to build and set some live-traps baited with chicken pieces in order to obtain a specimen.

Caitlin and Scott spent hours building five funnel traps out of chicken wire, with internal funnels that would lead the lizards to the chicken meat through a black plastic liner tunnel which would hopefully prevent its escape until we retrieved the trap. Hinrich took half the team out to set five traps near the swamp, three at ground level and two in the trees.

Professor Hinrich Kaiser with the monitor lizard
traps constructed by his students
One of the monitor lizard traps in situ
on a branch in the swamp

The trap setting team came back to camp triumphant because despite chasing a large monitor lizard which plunged into the swamps and vanished, Scott and Laca managed to capture a juvenile - Laca climbed the tree, the team ringed the tree and when the lizard leapt Scott made the capture. The team also captured an Emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina).

Ataúro monitor lizard
Varanus sp.

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