Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Meleotegi River, Ermera District
Back at the Timor Lodge Hotel in Dili the team sorted kit, organised laundry, and knuckled down to final photography and prepping of specimens from Lautém District.
We also off-hired one of the Troopies, we would only need a single vehicle for our final field trip to the Meleotegi River, leaving the following day.
Location of Bakhita, Ermera District.
On previous phases of the survey we have spent several days at the Sta Bakhita Mission at Eraulo, Ermera District.
The nearby Meleotegi River has produced some tantalisting specimens, such as two frog species which we found in 2009 but have subsequently failed to find since or anywhere else on the island of Timor, and a snake-eyed skink (Cryptoblepharus sp.) which we believe to be a new high-altitude species.
Keen to obtain additional specimens we planned a a diurnal trip to the Meleotegi for the skink and a nocturnal trip for the two frog species. The location is near Sta Bakhita, a relatively short 1.5hr drivefrom Dili, via Gleno.
Driving to Bakhita across a ford.
Sta Bakhita Mission, Eraúlo, Ermera District.
After meeting with the staff of the Sta Bakhita Mission and accepting their hospitality (Timor coffee and some excellent home-baked rolls), we set off for the short drive to the Meleotegi River and some serious field herping in one of our favourite locations.
On the river we spread out from the log bridge and worked our way upstream, searching all habitats on the river and the river banks for herps. Rock piles belonging to the villagers were also searched, the rocks replaced in the correct piles as they are owned by different people.
The team spreads ou, as Zito crosses the log bridge, visible on Google Earth (the bridge, not Zito).
Naveen, Zito and Luis searching for skinks
in a rock pile.
Views upstream on the Meleotegi River (dry season).
Our efforts over the next couple of hours were well rewarded. Under river-side rocks and debris Hinrich captured several specimens of the Timor river frog (Limnonectes timorensis) while Marissa caught a Timor treefrog (Litoria everetti) in the water, the first specimens of either species we had seen since 2009 (Phase I). This effectively negated the need for a second, nocturnal visit to Bakhita this phase.
In rock piles and on the banks we collected Four-fingered skinks (Carlia sp.), a Night skink (Eremiascincus sp.), and two possible species of Forest skink (Sphenomorphus sp.). Zito and Luis bagged a Timor flying lizard (Draco timoriensis) that was uncharacteristically easy to capture while running through the leaf litter. The Holy Grail for this visit to Bakhita, a second specimen of the Highland snake-eyed skink (Cryptoblepharus sp.) was blowpiped from high on a tree trunk by Laca.
A Gallery of Meleotegi River herps.
Timor treefrog, Litoria everetti
Timor river frog, Limnonectes timorensis
Four-fingered skink, Carlia sp.
Night skink, Eremiascincus sp.
Forest skink, Sphenomorphus sp.
Timor flying lizard, Draco timoriensis
Highland snake-eyed skink, Cryptoblepharussp.
Mission accomplished, the tutors relax!
Timor flying lizard, Draco timoriensis mouse over or click to enlarge