24 June 2012 1 of 1




Back at the Timor Lodge Hotel we now had some specimens from the Meleotegi River to work up, especially the Eremiascincus and Sphenomorphus skinks which were of considerable importance, and of particular interest to Sven whose PhD is on these genera. Several almost certainly constitute new species to science.

When we sat down to breakfast we were joined by a Timor praying mantis (Hierodula timorensis) which was also dining, ambushing bees as they visited flowers in the tree above us. A closer examination revealed a third species, a fly that was feeding on left-overs around the mantid's mouth, a dangerous life-style, one might think.

Timor praying mantis, Hierodula timorensis
having a bee for breakfast

I also got busy photographing some of the specimens we wanted to release, amongst them the young Timor monitor lizard (Varanus timorensis) who went to great lengths to bite me, something he achieved twice, only relinquishing his grip reluctantly and after causing considerable pain and some loss of blood.

The tenacious monitor lizard would not let go
Photo: Andrew Kathriner

We also had to discuss our plans for the next three weeks. Once our passports are deposited with the Indonesian Embassy on Monday morning, in readiness for our visas to reach the Oecusse exclave, we plan to head east and base ourselves in Baucau for a few days. From here we hope to penetrate some of the herpetologically unexplored mountains to the south.

Whilst we were busy with specimens, photography and fieldwork preparations Luis came to visit us and through him we recruited Paulo Pinto as a potential new Jet to accompany us and act as interpreter. Twenty-seven years of age with ten years of education, he was keen to improve himself through vocational courses in English and computer science but he also had an interest in wildlife. Like Laca he came from near Lospalos in Lautém District, and Luis assured us he was also an accomplished snake catcher, having assistend the Jets during their final year's degree projects.

Tomorrow we set out in earnest on Phase VII of the Reptile & Amphibian Survey of Timor-Leste.