Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Ossohuna, Baucau District
The habitat south of Baguia enroute Ossohuna
We spent a lot of time in the Ossohuna Subdistrict, searching mid-montane forest around 960 m for herps, and on the slopes above the village of Waimata. The drive took us past the towards the interestingly named Mount Bina.
The entire area was gripped with electioneering— on 7 July the parliamentary elections take place. We passed one house high in the hills, and a distinguished man waved. He was the new President of Timor-Leste, Taur Matan Ruak, who was at home for the weekend and was taking the air as we drove past. The Presidential elections had been a few weeks ago and our old friend José Ramos-Horta was no longer the incumbent.
On the road to Ossohuna,
Mount Ossosama (1257 m) in the foreground, Mount Bremata (2158 m) in the background
Mt Uatoruss (1254 m) on the left,
Mt Maouloibaha (1184 m) on the right,
Mt Bina (1240 m) in the middle
Parked in the village preparing for the short trek into the forest
We parked up in the village but found the area oddly devoid of reptiles or amphibians, in fact the locals told us there were no snakes in the area! We saw but failed to capture some Four-fingered skinks (Carlia sp.) which vanished into dead bamboo litter but we did find some interesting invertebrates: both species of scorpions we are familiar with, Liocheles sp. and Lychas mucronatus, two species of centipedes, the small brown species we had seen on Mt Mundo Perdido and the scutigerid centipede, but few herps.
Eventually we discovered a Striped treefrog (Polypedates cf. leucomystax) and several geckos hiding in the bamboo, wedged between the dead outer sheaths and the bamboo itself. These geckos turned out to be Dwarf tree geckos (Hemiphyllodactylustypus). Searching these habitats made us jump a few times as they were also home to some very large Brown huntsmen spiders (Heteropodavenatoria) one of which leapt onto me and disappeared only to reappear and jump off again some ten minutes later.
Andrew, Hinrich and Sven searching the bamboo
for geckos and avoiding large spiders