June-Aug 2014 2 of 2




The Reptile & Amphibian Survey of Timor-Leste

With so much bloodshed and turmoil during the latter 20th Century that it is no surprise that biologists didn't visit East Timor during the time it was under Indonesian control. Even during Portuguese colonial times most of the biological fieldwork and collecting was carried out in the western (Dutch) half of the island. Only one Portuguese collection was made in East Timor, during the 1890s, but it was lost in the Museo Bocage, Lisbon fire of 1978.

In 2009, with Timor-Leste now a safe and stable country, a team of staff and students from Victor Valley College, California, led by Hinrich Kaiser and Mark O'Shea, linked up with students from the Universidade National do Timor-Lorosa’e in Dili, to take up the challenge of conducting an intensive and extensive survey of the reptile and amphibian fauna of the entire country of Timor-Leste, including the Oecusse exclave and the Timorese islands of Ataúro and Jaco.

The island of Timor is located in the Outer Banda Arc of the Lesser Sunda Islands while Ataúro is located in the Inner Banda Arc and may be expected to be zoogeographically different.

With 1-2 phases a year, this project is now in its 6th year and the teams are about to embark on Phases IX & X. We plan to visit all four landmasses within Timor-Leste, driving through West Timor to reach Oecusse and taking small boats to Ataúro and Jaco Islands.

This field blog is being compiled while the team is actually in the field with pages going online whenever an internet connection is available. For this reason there may be gaps of several days between postings, especially as there is no internet connection on either of the islands, so please bookmark this blog for future reference.

Upon our return from the field the blog also forms the basis of the online report which will appear in the Expeditions section of this website. Links to the reports for Phases I-VIII can be found here as can links to download all published papers resulting from the fieldwork.

Map of Timor-Leste showing locations of Oecusse exclave, Atáuro and Jaco Islands, Lake Ira Lalaro and the Districts,
with inset map showing their relation to the Inner and Outer Banda Arcs of the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Click on the map to enlarge or mouse-over for a view of Ataúro Island from Dili