TIMOR-LESTE 2012

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

Maganuto, Bobonaro District

 

Map of Maliana, Maganutu and Mt Leolaco
Galusapulu was a location herped by Zito during his own research study

mouse-over to view Google Earth satmap
click to view large topomap

 

Zito managed to get the day off work to take us to a likely location where we could find montane reptiles and amphibians about 30 minutes east from Maliana. It involved a short climb from the village of Maganuto at 923 m elevation, through three different habitat types to teh base of Mt Leolaco. Much of the climb was across coarse montane grass with scattered rocks but there were areas of dense buttressed trees, hooked vines, cacti and bamboo, and then there was the mossy forest at around 1200 m on the lower slopes of the cliff that towered above us. This last habitat was our destination, an area of large trees growing out of accumulated rock-falls, the whole largely covered by moss and epiphytes.

Maganuto was our start point A graveyard on the hill overlooks
the Indonesian border

As we climbed we could clearly see how close we were to the Indonesian border across the river.

Clounds roll over the mountains like a white tsunami
Indonesian West Timor is to the right in the distance

 

The forest at the base of Mt Leolaco
was our destination
The team searching a clump of bamboo

On the way to the mossy forest we searched some bamboo clumps and found them a good source for very dark specimens of Indo-Pacific gecko (Hemidactylus cf. garnotii) and some interesting invertebrates. We found these geckos fairly common, encountering them in other bamboo clumps on the hillside. We found a Bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp.9) in a termite-hollowed tree and a Striped treefrog (Polypedates cf. leucomystax) under a rock, out in the middle of the course grassy habitat a long way from the nearest tree.

 

Striped treefrog
Polypedates cf. leucomystax
Indo-Pacific gecko
Hemidactylus cf. garnotii
Indo-Pacific gecko
Hemidactylus cf. garnotii
Bent-toed gecko
Cyrtodactylus sp.9

 

The cliff-base mossy forest
huge epiphytic fern masses should be home to many organisms

We reached the moss forest but found it surprisingly devoid of reptiles or amphibians, although the rocky base did look an ideal place for pythons to hunt at night.

Amongst the interesting invertebrates found were small praying mantids, a large and formidable ground cricket and an interesting opilones, which in English we call a harvestman but Americans term a daddy-long legs (this last name is used for the unrelated crane flies in England and is also used by some people for the long-legged and also unrelated cellar spiders).

 

Alien Faces
A formidable ground cricket
Orthoptera
A diminutive praying mantis
Mantidae
An opilones with impressive eye-spots
Opilones

Back at Maganuto we got reports of a large lizard in a rocky crevice. Paulo went to investigate, accompanied by the village children, and returned to say it was a large Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko gecko).

Paulo, the "Pied Piper of Maganuto" leads the way