In the second week, when we had failed to find New Guinea brownsnakes (Pseudonaja textilis) in either Heropa or Parahe mini-estates to the east of the Girua River, we decided to concentrate on a search for New Guinea small-eyed snakes (Micropechis ikaheka), in the plantations around Higatura on the western side of the Girua River. Small-eyed snakes were in any case the priority for this trip to Oro Province.
We divided our time between the Sangara plantation near Higatura Estate, and the Mamba Estate near Kokoda.
We were told that the Sangara plantation contained a large population of venomous snakes so we spent spent three days here either side of our second trip to Mamba. I was joined by Ben Bande, driver Hayward and the four plantation workers: Albert, Joseph, Ben and Terry.
Typical Sangara habitat
Searching the palm frond rubbish (l-r) Albert, Joseph and Ben while Hayward looks on
The ever smiling Ben Bande from the Charles Campbell Toxinology Laboratory
Albert, top snake finder
and his off-sider Joseph
We found plenty of reptiles and amphibians at Sangara, which was wetter and more verdant than Heropa or Parahe, probably due to the creek that ran through the centre of the plantation.
The frogs included Papuan fanged frog (Lechriodus melanopyga) and a undescribed microhylid (Austerochaperina sp.). We also saw Papuan wood frogs (Hylaranadaemeli) but did not capture any.
Papuan fanged frog,
The lizards included the Pelagic gecko (Nactus pelagicus), Mys' four-fingered skink (Carlia mysi), Solomons forest skink (Sphenomorphus solomonis), Müller's skink (Solomonis muelleri), Brown sheen skink (Eugongylus rufescens) and Southern giant blue-tongued skink (Tiliqua gigas evanescens). We saw Blue-tailed skinks (Emoia caeruleocauda), but did not catch them.