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

Lake Matin, Aileu District

Looking for an upland freshwater location within striking distance of Dili, where we could search for frogs and lizards, we settled on a large lake located about 1.5 hours south of Dili, according to the map at least.

The drive was tortuous, up winding, narrow pot-holed roads, masked by low cloud. Our first stop was at Dare, the location of the museum to the Australian, Timorese and Portuguese resistance to the Japanese during WWII, with its impressive view back over Dili.


The view of Dili from the Dare war memorial

Here Laca amused the children and our new team members by demonstrating his abilities both with a blow-gun and as a tree climber to capture a female Timor flying lizard (Draco timoriensis). When we examined the lizard more closely we discovered it was parasitized - there were half a dozen red mites on the underside of its patagia (the wings flying lizards spread to glide). These could just be photographed with my Canon MP-E 65 mm macro lens with a 2x Extender set to 10x life-size.

Laca draws a crowd and Zach films him
climbing after the flying lizard
Timor flying lizard,
Draco timoriensis
Ared parasitic mite (Acari) photographed 10x life-size on the patagia (wing) of the
Timor flying lizard,
Draco timoriensis

We finally reached Lake Matin and discovered how extensive rice cultivation is in the area.

Map of Lake Matin showing collection locality above Siliboro
and agricultural areas .

Mouse-over for Google satellite map and click for enlarged topographic map.



Much of the lake has been harnessed as rice paddy.

The team spread our in the coffee forest and the pools and creeks. We found numerous spiders including some interesting crab spiders, jumping spiders, huntsman spiders and a large female Golden orb weaving spider (Nephila sp.), which sank its fangs into my finger. The bite was painful for about 15 minutes and then gradually wore off.

Almost down at lake level where we searched for frogs


Siliboro Aldeia farm houses on Lake Matin


The only herps we captured were Rice-paddy frogs (Fejervarya sp.) although Caitlin and Laca missed a Sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata) in some spiny aloe veras.

Coffee forest near Siliboro on the shores of Lake Matin - lots of spiders
The team spreads out to search for frog, and Zach films the search
Rice-paddy frog,
Fejervarya sp.