TIMOR-LESTE 2010

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

Dili & Comoro River, Dili District


Map of west Dili showing the airport, the Timor Lodge Hotel,
our herping location of the Comoro River,
and the container park where the Macklot's pythons were sighted.

(click to enlarge)

We have used Rentló as our preferred 4x4 hire company since Phase I but it was during Phase II that we discovered the convenience of the Timor Lodge Hotel, located in the Comoro area of west Dili, within 5 minutes of the airport but with easy access to Dili, in a secure fenced compound with a pool (the largest in town), a restaurant, laundry and internet cafe, it had become our headquarters when in the capital.

Location of Timor Lodge Hotel (and Rentló)- our headquarters in Dili,
white box indicates perimeter.

(click to enlarge for more detail of the compound)

 

The entrance, Rentlo office on the left,
Timor Lodge Hotel office on the right.
Welcome to the Timor Lodge Hotel.
Views of the restaurant and the pool (which I have yet to use).

The compound was formerly a military base, a fact reinforced by the double-fence with a dog run in between (now used for keeping chickens) and a sign over the gate that reads:

"Working Together Army Navy Airforce Marines"

Faint but still visible, the sign over the gate to the chalets. Guys got chalet 36, girls got chalet 33.

On Phase II we used the two person converted container accommodation but during Phase III we took two chalets, one for the four males and another for the three females. Benny and the Jets stay at their own homes while we are in Dili.

The dry Comoro River valley
where we herped whilst in Dili.

The container yard at Palapasu where Laca was called to capture the Macklot's water python two days before we arrived.
Note the canals on either side.

On June 21 I arrived in Dili, from Bali, a few hours ahead of the Americans who were coming in from Darwin. I was greeted with the news that Laca had caught a snake in a container yard at Palapasu in Dili, 2 days earlier. When the main body of the expedition had arrived, Laca produced the snake bag in the hotel restaurant and I identified it as a 2.0m Macklot's water python (Liasis mackloti mackloti). Laca said that an even larger (3.0m) specimen had evaded capture.

The container yard, located near the sea-front, is fringed on both sides by freshwater canals, the likely origin of the two pythons.

The container yard in Palapasu where Laca was called to capture the
Macklot's water python
- a second larger specimen escaped.
One of the canals that border the container yard.

 

Macklot's water python, Liasis mackloti mackloti

The Timor Lodge Hotel is popular with UN personnel, especially the Turkish UNPOL contingent, possibly due to the hospitality of the Turkish manager Kamal. Whilst we were dining in the restaurant the UNPOL officers were holding a meeting and following their meeting Kamal informed me that they had recognised me and would I pose for some photographs with them, as they were fans of OBA. My expedition colleagues fetched the Macklot's water python from the chalet for the photographs.

Turkish UNPOL officers pose with Mark O'Shea and the Macklot's water python, Kamal, manager of the Timor Lodge Hotel, is 3rd from left.

We made one herp collecting trip whilst in Dili, up the dry Comoro River valley, in response to a newspaper report of a 3.0m python from the area.

Report of a 3.0m Reticulated python, Python reticulatus reticulatus,
sent us herping in the Comoro River valley.

(click to view enlarged report, although you will need to understand Tetun to read it)

 

The dry hills and rice paddies of the Comoro River valley, south of Dili.

We searched around the villages, rice paddies and flood-water barriers but only located Striped treefrogs (Polypedates cf. leucomystax) and Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus). We were told of a nocturnal brown snake that lived in the concrete structure behind a latrine and also a highly venomous banded red and black snake found in the rice paddy during the daytime. The first could be a python whilst the second remains a mystery for now. We also found and old friend, the buthid Timor wood scorpion (Lychas mucronatus), that had stung Hinrich and myself at Lagoa Ila Lalaro during Phase I.

Herps and scorpions from Comoro River
Striped treefrog, Polypedates cf. leucomystax
Common house gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus
Timor wood scorpion, Lychas mucronatus