PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2013

Oro Province
Higatura to Girua Road

In the evenings we would drive the road from the Higatura Estates back to the Girua River. On my previous visit, in 2006, I used to drive the road beyond the river as far as Oro Bay, but in 2007 Cyclone Guba devastated the province and destroyed most of the bridges, including the the Girua River bridge, effectively cutting Popondetta off from its airport. The only means to cross since then was by fording the wide river and whilst feasible during the day this was not something to be done regularly at night without good reason. Road-cruising for snakes therefore ended at the Girua River.

The road to the airport includes
an impressive river fording

Most of the snakes encountered on the road were DOR (dead on road). They incldued diurnal species: a Common treesnake (Dendrelaphis punctulatus), and a Long-tailed keelback (Tropidonophis multiscutallatus), and nocturnal species: a Bevel-nosed boa (Candoia paulsoni mcdowelli), a medium-sized Southern white-lipped python (Leiopython hoserae), and the species we hoped to find alive on the road, a New Guinea small-eyed snake (Micropechis ikaheka). I examined all these DOR (dead-on-road) specimens and only the boa was a genuine "road-kill", all the others showed signs of having being killed elsewhere and thrown onto the road.

Common treesnake,
Dendrelaphis punctulatus
Headless, tailless Many-tailed keelback,
Tropidonophis multiscutellatus
Bevel-nosed ground boa,
Candoia paulsoni mcdowelli
Southern white-lipped python,
Leiopython hoserae
New Guinea small-eyed snake,
Micropechis ikaheka

 

On another occasion we obtained a DOR New Guinea small-eyed snake hit had been hit by the car in front of ours, but at least I got a museum specimen. The only live snake rescued off the road was a juvenile Southern white-lipped python.

New Guinea small-eyed snake
Micropechis ikaheka

Southern white-lipped python
Leiopython hoserae