TIMOR-LESTE 2009

Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Phase I

 

Lake Ira Lalaro, Tutuala, Lautem District


Map of eastern Lautem District.
(click to enlarge and view Lake Ira Lalaro locations)

Lake Ira Lalaro with Paitxau Mts in background.

 

Lake Ira Lalaro is the largest area of standing water on the island of Timor and reportedly home to a large population of Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus).

The lake area is considerable during the wet season but during the dry season much of the lake it returned to pasture or scrubby grassland. The Irasequiro River flows out of the lake to the east.

 

 

 

Irasequiro River looking downstream.
Irasequiro River, eastern outflow
f rom Lake Ira Lalaro,
with the destroyed bridge.
Irasequiro River looking upstream.

 

Habitat round Lake ira Lalaro is flat, the entire area is flooded extensively in the wet season.

Paul Freed and Mark O'Shea with endemic
Timor snake-necked turtle, Chelodina mccordi timorensis

 

Lake Ira Lalaro is also home to the endemic Timor snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi timorensis). Being dry season the water area was much reduced andthe turtle was probably aestivating, but we were fortunate enough to meet someone who had one as a 'pet' and we were able to photograph it.

 

 

 

TURTLE from LAKE IRA LALARO
click on an image to enlarge
Timor snake-necked turtle, Chelodina mccordi timorensis

 

Island pitviper, Cryptelytrops insularis,
in situ where it was found at lake Ira Lalaro.

 

Searching for skinks and frogs in leaf-litter of a swampy area, alongside a causeway track that led to the collapsed bridge, we encountered another Island pitviper (Cryptelytrops insularis), presumably also hunting lizards, frogs or small mammals. Strangely all these green pitvipers have been found on the ground, belying their presumed arboreality.

 

 

 

 

PITVIPER from LAKE IRA LALARO
click on an image to enlarge
Island pitviper, Cryptelytrops insularis

One other thing happened at Lake Ira Lalaro, Hinrich was stung by a scorpion and whilst I was collecting the specimen for identification, I too was stung by a second one that then evaded capture. The stings were extremely painful for some time and were even reactivated by contact with the stung digit, hours and a day later. I identified the scorpions as buthids, the most serious family of scorpions, based on the accessory spine on the telson (sting) and later as Wood scorpions (Lychas mucronatus) a painful but clearly non-fatal genus.

Wood scorpion, Lychas mucronatus
the one that stung Hinrich with the telltale accessory spine on the telson.