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

Baucau to Dili

The Viqueque to Baucau journey was uneventful but after we had lunched in Baucau we set out for the Dili along the northern coastal road, through Baucau, Manatuto and Dili Districts. A mixture of lowlying rice paddy and hills, we encountered three road killed specimens.

Expedition members enjoy lunch in Baucau: (L-R): Andrew Kathriner, Dominique Fallas, Eric Leatham, Caitlin Sanchez, Hinrich Kaiser, Luis Lemos, "Benny" Carvalho, "Laca" Ribeiro, Christy LeDuc.

Maps of northern coast road between Vemasse, Baucau District, and Obrat0, Manatuto District,
with localities of road-kills indicated.
(click to enlarge)

Timor-Leste Road-Kill No.1: Vemasse, Baucau District.

The first road-kill was a large (2.5m+) Macklot's water python (Liasis mackloti) on the road across lowland rice paddy near Vemasse in western Baucau District. Although now brown and dry, it was clear this area was often very wet, reinforcing our view that this python is primarily associated with wetland areas. Most people ignore road-kills, herpers drive past shaking their heads and bemoaning the waste, field herpetologists stop and collect data and samples.

Road-killed 2.5m+ Macklot's water python, Liasis mackloti
Most people pass road-kills with barely a glance.
We stop and examine them closely, obtain
snout-vent and tail lengths, sex, and if possible
liver samples for DNA.
Luis attempts to charm the ophiophobic locals with our live Macklot's water python - without success.
Dry brown rice paddy habitat on the seaward side of the road at Vemasse, Baucau District.
A panorama across the dry rice paddy habitat on the landward side of the road at Vemasse, Baucau District.

Timor-Leste Road-Kill No.2: Lifau, Manatuto District.

The second road-kill was a gravid female Timor monitor lizard (Varanus timorensis), on the approach to the long bridge over the Rio Laleia to Lifau town, Suco Laleia, Manatuto District. Again the habitat was, at times, very wet despite now being quite dry. Another monitor lizard had been seen crossing the road some time earlier but it had evaded capture.

Lifau town, Suco Laleia, Manatuto District.


The bridge over the Rio Lateia to Lifau.


Road-killed Timor monitor lizard,
Varanus timorensis just before the bridge.


Luis recording road-kill GPS coordinates.

Timor-Leste Road-Kill No.3: Obrato, Manatuto District.

The third road-kill was another Macklot's water python, this time on a road running through wet rice paddy at a slightly higher elevation, near Obrato in Suco Sau, to the west of Manatuto town.

Road-killed 2.0m+
Macklot's water python, Liasis mackloti


Wet rice paddy habitat at Obrato.

After Manatuto town the road climbs and winds through the hilly country and rugged coastlines of Metinaro, on the approach to Dili.

The rugged coast of Metinaro, eastern Dili District