The Higatura Estates main offices are located west of Popondetta. We visited the offices to make arrangements for our visit to Mamba Estates and to use the internet.
Owen and I were lodged at The Ridge Guest House, in the Higatura accommodation compound a few kilometres to the west.
The Ridge Guest House, main building on right, our accommodation on left
The view out the back, hence "the Ridge."
Here New Guinea small-eyed snakes,
Micropechis ikaheka, have been seen
Upon arrival we explored the local plantations on foot. The only herp we saw was an Emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis smaragdina) but it climbed quickly out of reach.
On the first evening Brian took us out for a drive around the plantations, in the hopes of finding New Guinea small-eyed snakes (Micropechis ikaheka) but all we caught were a large White-lipped treefrog (Litoria infrafrenata), the largest treefrog in the world, and some Wood frogs (Hylarana sp.) which has still to be identified to species.
White-lipped treefrog, Litoria infrafrenata
Papuan wood frog,
The Ridge was out base while we were working in the oil palm plantations of the Oro coastal lowlands. We usually arrived back to exhausted to do much herping in the near vicinity but a fallen, decaying log near the accomodation did attract our attention. Underneath we found a Solomons forest skink (Sphenomorphus solomonis) and a Dwarf tree gecko (Hemiphyllodactylus typus), and a ziplock bag which suggested we were not the first herpers to examine the locality.
Solomons forest skink,Sphenomorphus solomonis
Dwarf tree gecko,Hemiphyllodactylus typus
I set up my room at The Ridge as both a photographic studio and a field laboratory.
A snakeman's room
Owen and I were also invited to speak at The Barn, the Higatura social club located close to where we were staying. We had a large audience of expatriots from Australia, S.Africa, Zimbabwe, India and China, plus a few Papuan nationals. My talk was Snakes of Oro, and it was prepared from scratch in the hour leading up to its actual presentation. Owen's talk was on correct first aid techniques (pressure immobilisation technique, PIB or "Aussie Bandage"- including a demonstration) and he came down heavily on dangerous practises such as razor-cutting and torniquets.
Mark beginning his presentation Snakes of Oro
Owen talking about snakebite first aid
Owen also used our accomodation as somewhere to give PIB lessons to some of our keener field assistants such as Albert and Joseph.
Ben giving Albert and Joseph PIB training
while Hayward looks on
We were also asked to present simpler versions of our presentations at the Siroga International School , at the request of the Zimbabwean headmaster Father Paul, and Owen demonstrated PIB. Even children like these can learn it and save lives.
Mark and Owen presenting at Siroga International School