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

Maubara, Liquiça District

The final few days of the 2010 expedition were intended to be spent visiting Oecussi, a small isolated enclave of Timor-Leste on the north coast of Indonesian West Timor, either overland or by UN helicopter, but logistics defeated us on this occasion. Plan B became our first visit to Liquiça District, 35kms and an hour west along the coast from Dili.

Liquiça to Maubara (click on map to enlarge and view locations between Liquiça and Maubara).

Here we concentrated on the arid coastal habitat between Liquiça and Maubara, paying particular attention to the dry river valleys (these rivers only flow in the monsoon season), the xerophytic coastal vegetation, old Portuguese colonial ruins and Maubara Lake, a large still lake surrounded by haunting dead trees. Locally this lake is said to contain evil spirits, possibly as a result of the tree deaths and general atmosphere of anticipation one feels standing on the shoreline.

Coastal palm debris habitat for skinks and geckos.
Old buildings often contain geckos.
Expedition vehicles in dry river bed.
Riverbed trees contained flying lizards and geckos.
In the wet season the dry river bed
becomes a torrent.
Dead trees in Maubara Lake.

click on an image to enlarge

Dead trees line the shoreline of the spookily quiet Maubara Lake.


Lizards collected in the dry river beds included House geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus), the tenacious Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) and the Timor flying lizard (Draco timoriensis). Most of these were found living in or on the tall trees in the centre of the riverbed, where they could survive the wet season floods.

click on an image to enlarge
Common house gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus
Tokay gecko, Gekko gecko
Timor flying lizard, Draco timoriensis
Timor flying lizard, Draco timoriensis