Oriomo River
Western Province
11-28 April 2008

Mouth of the Oriomo River.
Map showing the locations enroute up the
Oriomo River, Western Province, PNG.

click to enlarge map
Across Daru Roads.

We made several trips across the Daru Roads, the channel between Daru and the mainland, to search for snakes in the coastal habitats around Dorogori and Katatai. Several snakes were sigheed and missed but we caught a Black whipsnake (Demansia vestigiata), one of the minor venomous snakes of PNG. We also missed a young Papuan taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus canni).

Dorogori village.
Black whipsnake, Demansia vestigiata

We also made two trips up the Oriomo River to Katatai fishing camp, Upiara 2 and Abam villages, and as far as Oriomo station where I was based as part of my first expedition to PNG in 1986, as a member of the Scientific Directing Staff of Operation Raleigh.

Katatai fishing camp, Oriomo River.
Dead fall trap, Katatai fishing camp.
Kundu drum with monitor lizard skin,
Katatai fishing camp.

At the Katatai fishing camp we captured a number of skinks: Aramia four-fingered skink (Carlia aramia), Long-tailed skink (Emoia longicauda) and Black-tailed skink (Glaphyromorphus nigricaudis), living in and around the temporary fishing huts.

Aramia four-fingered skink, Carlia aramia
Long-tailed skink, Emoia longicauda
Black-tailed skink, Glaphyromorphus nigricaudis


Outrigger canoe on the Oriomo River.


Upiara 2 village.


Mangrove monitor lizards (Varanus indicus) or various sizes were sighted fairlty frequently in trees along the Oriomo River, several leaping into the water to escape when disturbed.

Mangrove monitor lizard, Varanus indicus

We stopped at Abam, one of the reported locations for the Banded mangrove snake (Cantoria annulata) and mounted a search of suitable habitats.

Oriomo River at Abam.
Nipa palm at Abam.
Abam village.
Abam village.
Cutting sago from sago palm.

With the help of the villagers uncovered several snakes along the river bank, all of which escaped except a Common treesnake (Dendrelaphis punctulatus) captured in a low tree.

Common treesnake, Dendrelaphus punctulatus

We continued up river as far as Oriomo where I had been based on the Operation Raleigh expedition in 1986. We had little time available for herping here before we had to return downstream but I had a chance to visit the remains of the government buildings which had several as our expedition accommodation and laboratries 22 years previously. Several Trans-Fly snake-eyed skinks (Cryptoblepharus xenikos) were seen on the posts but they evaded capture. All that remained were the concrete posts on which the buildings stood. A new road being constructed from Oriomo the 61kms to Wipim would have made life easier back then too as I took a herp patrol on a trek to Wipim and back in 1986, a journey that took some time as I has malaria and could not walk in the afternoons due to fever.

Mark at Oriomo, new road building scheme sign. Oriomo River at Oriomo.
The remains of the government buildings which formed our base in 1986.


Small boy with a novel use for condoms.