06 July 2014 1 of 2

TIMOR-LESTE (Dili Distr.)



The highest point of Ataúro Island is Mt Manucoco (995 m). There is a village in the island's center called Macadade at the foot of the mountain. We had collected in the area on several of our previous visits to the island but we had unfinished business on Macucoco. On Phase I (2009) we collected a single specimen of small, highland bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp.), which appears to be a new species to science, in a limestone gorge above Macadade. We could really use a second specimen for more data but our subsequent visits to Macadade have resulted in only one more specimen, which escaped.

Today we borrowed the pick-up truck from Barry's Place and set out for the one hour drive to Macadade, stopping at a grassy and rocky promontory enroute where we have previously captured herps, including two Brahminy blindsnakes (Indotyphlops braminus). We again captured a blindsnake.

At Macadade we got permission to enter the forest and found a guide before we set out for the gorge. Once there we spread out and searched all the microhabitats: rock-faces, under bark on dead trees, in leaf-litter in tree buttresses, and behind the leaf-axils of bamboo. We found Mutilated geckos (Gehyra mutilata) but no bent-toed geckos. However we did capture two interesting specimens, a juvenile Dwarf tree gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus) under the bark of a dead stump, and a Timor blindsnake (Sundatyphlops cf. polygrammicus) some 30 cm from the ground in a bamboo leaf-axil - this is a much larger species than the aforementioned Brahminy blindsnake. We also found one of the more painful buthid scorpions (Lychas mucronatus); you always have to be careful where you put your hands.

Mt Manucoco in the clouds The team on Mt Manucoco with the flags of the Explorers Club of New York and Timor-Leste
The gorge on Mt Manucoco Bambook leaf-axils

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