Wamawamana and the north coast Milne Bay Province 19 September - 2 October 2006
Map showing the routes and collection localities in Milne Bay Province, PNG. click to enlarge map
We made three trips over the mountains north of Alotau, to the north coast of Milne Bay Province where American herpetologist Chris Austin had obtained the New Guinea brownsnake (Pseudonaja textilis) currently in the AVRU Serpentarium in Port Moresby. It was unknown whether any of the other four medically important elapids (Papuan taipan, Oxyuranus scutellatus canni; Papuan blacksnake, Pseudechis papuanus, Smooth-scaled death adder, Acanthophis laevis) or New Guinea small-eyed snake, Micropechis ikaheka) occurred along the north coast.
To reach the northern coast it is necessary to drive east to just beyond Watunou before turning north to cross the mountains to the coast near Huhuna, from where the road goes west past the villages of Gunumera, Awaiama, Garuahi, Taupota and Wamawamana and Topura where the road terminates.
The northern road is graded gravel.
The road to the north coast at Huhuna.
The arid hills of the north coast.
Crossing over the mountain we discovered some old corrugated metal, under which we found a Papuan wrinkled ground frog (Platymantis cf. papuensis) and an unidentified species of Papuan wood frog (Hylarana sp.), a curious long-headed Pelagic gecko (Nactus cf. pelagicus) and several Eastern four-fingered skinks (Carlia eothen). It is surprising what turns up under trash.
There were numerous dry creek beds along the north coast full of dead leaf-litter and populated by very large numbers of Eastern four-fingered skinks, the ideal prey for the Smooth-scaled death adder (Acanthophis laevis), yet no death adders were found, nor have any been reported from the majority of Milne Bay Province. Death adders may be absent from the eastern end of the Papuan Peninsula.
Northern mountains from the north coast.
Several DOR snakes were found along the north coast road including a Slatey-grey snake (Stegonotus cucullatus), a McDowell's ground boa (Candoia paulsoni macdowelli). A live Papuan treesnake (Dendrelaphis papuensis) was captured while two snakes, believed to be a Common treesnake (D.punctulatus) and a New Guinea brownsnake (Pseudonaja textilis), managed to cross the road and evade capture. Several pythons were reported to us, including a large python in a tree which was not located, and a 2.0m Amethystine python (Morelia amethistina) being kept by an elderlycouple near Awaiama Bay.