PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2008

The Morans
Southern Highlands Province
14-22 May 2008


Map showing Agogo Ridge, Moran Main and North West Moran, Southern Highlands Prov., PNG.
click to enlarge map

From Hegigio we could reach the Moran* Main sites by road, via Agogo, all except NW Moran which would require helicopter insert. Although the Morans are close to Paua, as the crow flies, they involved either a very circuitous drive, via Moro, or a short hop by helicopter.

* Ironically moran is Papuan tok pisin for python.

The karst landscape looking towards Paua from Moran 4X, hours by road, 20minutes by air.

 

Agogo to Morans road, good OSL company road. Side-roads are less reliable.
Moran 8.
Moran 4X.
Moran 6X. North West Moran from Moran 4X.

 

North West Moran.
Disused helicopter pad, North West Moran.

 

The oil and gas are transported back to the production facilities by an extensive network of pipelines which snake through forests, along ridges and across gorges. I attempted to walk two of the pipelines, something only accomplished with some skillful balancing.

Pipelines snake across rough terrain and across gorges.

So our search for Boelen's pythons was unsuccessful, largely because we were unable to reach some of the most promising locations. Heavy rain, low cloud and high winds, combined with the landing zones being overgrown by jungle, made even access by helicopter impossible. However, we did find some interesting skinks, several of which may constitute new species. Two forest skinks of genus Sphenomorphus were collected, two specimens resembling Sphenomorphus papuae from Moran 4X and a specimen similar to Sphenomorphus annectans which was captured running across the Iagifu road, very strange behaviour for this particular semi-fossorial genus. This is probably an undescribed species. Several specimens of Papuan highland skink, genus Papuascincus, were collected from NW Moran and Moran 4X. This is almost certainly a new species and it is being described by the team at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. The third snake of the trip was a Brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) captured on a night drive along the Moran ridge road.

REPTILES from THE MORANS (Moran Main and NW Moran)
click on an image to enlarge
Forest skink, Sphenomorphus cf. papuae, from Moran 4x.
Forest skink, Sphenomorphus cf. annectans, from Iafigu road.
Papuan highland skink, Papuascincus sp. nov., from Moran 4x.
Papuan highland skink, Papuascincus sp. nov., from NW Moran.
Brown treesnake, Boiga irregularis, from Moran ridge road.