e
 
   

   


TIMOR-LESTE 2012

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

Mt Mundo Perdido, Viqueque District

 

Map of Ossu showing track towards Mt Mundo Perdido from Liamida
mouse-over to view Google Earth satmap
click to view large topomap

 

We hired a local hunter, Bendito, in the village of Liamida (929 m) north of Ossu, Viqueque District. We hoped to trek towards Mt Mundo Perdido (1748 m), a limestone plateau reminiscent of South America's tepuis. It was not our intention to climb the mountain, we merely desired to get into montane forest which might be home to endemic species of snakes, lizards or frogs. We trekked towards Mt Uaineti and then around its northern end and over the col between it and Mt Depaula.

Bendito and his dog
Hiking up from Liamida
click on the image to view the Troopie marked with an arrow
I was playing with a new camera
Hinrich on the hike

Had we been out here looking for centipedes we would have been in Seventh Heaven. We already had a large scolopendrid (Order Scolopendromorpha) from the road and a scutigerid (Order Scutigeromorpha) from the caves. Up here we found another scutigerid, plus three of the elongate soil centipedes from the Order Geophilomorpha, and two being smaller blackish scolopendrids. There are only five orders of centipedes, the fourth being the Order Lithobiomorpha, containing house centipedes, and the fifth a New Zealand endemic, Craterostigmomorpha.

Black centipede
species unknown
Scolopendridae
Yellow centipede
Geophilus flavus
Geophilidae

We also found both Timorese scorpions, the inoffensive scorpionid Forest scorpion (Liocheles sp.) and the painful and potentially dangerous buthid Bark scorpion (Lychas mucronatus) .

Forest scorpion
Liocheles sp.

Scorpionidae
Bark scorpion
Lychas mucronatus
Buthidae

There were frequent stops along the way to split open dead logs or roll rocks but these searches provided almost fruitless from an herpetological standpoint—almost! Andrew thinks he saw a skink, possibly a Sphenomorphus from the way it ran, but Caitlin saved the day by finding a blindsnake (Ramphotyphlops sp.) under a rock on the trail.

Blindsnake in pre- slough
Ramphotyphlops sp.

 

We continued upwards and finally reached a rocky plateau and a small creek in the cloud-forest at 1237 m but failed to find any more reptiles and eventually made our way back down to Liamida.

 

Spooky cloud-forest habitat off mosses and epiphytes

We then chilled in the village, ate a meal of rice and vegetables, entertained the local children, turned up an Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) besides the church, and had Paulo quiz the locals on reptiles they had seen using our Species Identification Cards. We were waiting for darkness so we could search the rock faces we had seen the day before, but in the event all we found were two more toads.

Asian black-spined toad
Duttaphrynus melanostictus

We drove back to Baucau, collecting a road-killed Island wolfsnake (Lycodon capucinus) just outside the town. The specimen was fresh enough to voucher.

Island wolfsnake
Lycodon capucinus