Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Baucau, Baucau District
Baucau is Timor-Leste's second town, located 123kms east of Dili, at an altitude of 330m. An old colonial town with an air of decaying Portuguese architecture, it overlooks the water-meadows of the Seical River to the east, a lowlying area now largely converted to rice paddy and the main area of the expedition's focus during Phases I and II.
Map of Baucau and surrounds (click
to enlarge and view locations).
Baucau Old Town's Portuguese roots are visible
in more than just in the architecture (look closely).
The view south of Baucau, looking east, from the sea and paddifields, across the Seical River to Mt Matebian (2315m).
Following the 2009 visit, a primary taxon of interest was the four-fingered skink genus, Carlia. The project required additional specimens to determine whether one or two lowland species were present. This genus is the source of taxonomic confusion across it range, which extends east to New Guinea, southeast to Australia, and north into the Lesser Sunda islands.
The team collected several Carlia from a site south of Baucau town, on the Venilale road, that had been highlighted as of interest in on the final day of the 2009 visit, and also bagged an Emerald tree skink (Lamprolepis cf. smaragdina) in the same location. Also captured were another Island pitviper (Cryptelytrops insularis), plus two specimens killed on the road or by villagers, and four Dog-faced watersnakes (Cerberus rynchops) during a period of fairly heavy rainfall when such normally fully aquatic snakes were found skittering across the lowlying road that crosses the paddifields to the east of Baucau town. Also collected were frogs of the confusing ranid genus Fejervarya, one form of which earned itself the name "machine gun frog" because of its repetitive call, and Foam-nest treefrogs of genus Polypedates.
Zito, Benny & Scott chasing flying lizards (Draco)
at the "Carlia site" in 2009 (Laca is up the tree).