PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2013

Central Province
Papa Swamp

Papa Swamp is a seasonally flooded area between the coast, the Brown River and Galley Reach. At one location an old shed had been demolised and there was a lot of corrugated roof tin lying around. Snakes often shelter under tin and early morning is good time to find them, before the tin is heated excessively by the sun. On the road we passed yet two more road killed carpet pythons.

David, Jasper, Ben and I arrived at the location to find the tin of the roof was still attached as a single unit which made searching underneath difficult. We persevered but found only geckos and skinks of the same species we were encountering elsewhere. Most evaded capture by escaping into the long grass around the structure so that I only caught one Common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus).

Jasper approaches the demolished corrugated tin building

We re-laid the tin, now broken into separate sheets, in the surrounding grass with a mind to returning in 3-4 weeks time. We then moved on to check an old quarry and again found the usual suspects, but no snakes.

The old quarry

We drove further northwest towards the crocodile-infested swamps that fringe the Brown River as it enters Galley Reach and thence the sea. This is very remote country and in the wet season completely impassible except by boat. At one large swamp, shrunken by the dry season, there was an old couple fishing from a dugout.

A swamp shrunken by the dry season but full of life a elderly couple fishing

The flood plains were now dry open pans of compacted mud and sand, alive with water birds if not a lot of water. Driving on these pans was a lot smoother than on the rocky tracks.

The Troopie on the dry flood plain

We continued on, exploring for suitable snake habitats and opportunities to the northwest until we reached the village of Kaiva located 16.5 km and 26 minutes from the highway. Here the people told us there were many, many snakes, in fact they had killed one the night before - they took us to it, a mildly venomous rear-fanged Brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis).

Mark and Ben interviewing Kaiva villagers about snakes Dave discussing a return with one of the enthusistic Kaiva villagers

 

Eventually the road ended at a rickerty foot bridge over a small creek and we had to rurn back.

You Shall Not Pass!