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

Com to Malahara, Lautém District

To reach the southern side of Lake Ira Lalaro we drove from Com to Bauro and continued south, on a remarkly good road, to Lospalos, before turning east for approximately 40minutes of rough road along the southern shores and wetlands of the lake.

The southwestern edge of the seasonal Lake Ira Lalaro, home to an endemic snake-necked turtle and three-hundred saltwater crocodiles.

At the village of Malahara we met with a village leader, who granted us permission to access the Mainina sinkhole on the foot of the Paixtau Mountains.

Our Troopies in Malahara village, on the southern shore of Lake Ira Lalaro.
One of the pair of spirit houses on the lake's shore
at Malahara.
One of the spirit houses at Malahara,
a common sight in Lautém District
Hinrich explains our purpose, Caitlin and Naveen look on (right), Jets mingle,
and Laca stands on the roof !


Lake Ira Lalaro is the largest lake in Timor-Leste and home not only to the endemic Timor snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi timorensis), which we met and photographed on Phase I in 2009, but also a land-locked population of 300 Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus).


A lurking Saltwater crocodile,
Crocodylus porosus, one of 300 in Lake Ira Lalaro
click on image to enlarge


On one of our visits to Malahara our attention was drawn to a large adult crocodile that was lurking off-shore near a group of water buffalos and their calves, surely waiting for one of the youngsters to stray too close to the water's edge.

We could not wait to see the result of the stalking as our guide was ready to go with us into the Nino Konis Santana National Park, to the Mainina sinkhole.