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

Com to Dili, Dili District

We were up early, as the sun rose from the ocean, and packed the Troopies.

The sun rising over Timor-Leste

We were on the road by 09:30 and made good time, arriving back at TLH around six-hours later. The weather was sunny and warm, so the drive was very pleasant even though we only stopped a few times for photo opportunities although we could not delay long as Hinrich needed to see a doctor.

Water buffalo in a roadside wallow Decaying Portuguese buildings in Baucau
A Brahminy kite, Haliastur indus, soars on the Dili thermals
Photo: Franziska Wagner

Hinrich visited the new and well-appointed Stamford Clinic in Dili and obtained a diagnosis: Dengue fever! The clinic was not only able to diagnose the disease, using a direct immunological assay, they were also able to confirm by the absence of memory antibodies that this was the first time he had it. However, his blood platelet count was so seriously off normal, that the doctor was on the verge of medivac'ing him to Australia for treatment. To avoid the expedition leader being forced to leave the expedition it was enforced bedrest and rehydration at the TLH for Hinrich, and daily blood tests, while the rest of us continued the fieldwork without him.

Hinrich most likely contracted dengue fever while we were on Lombok, and he remembers sustaining three bites from the day-active Aedes mosquitoes. It was one of the serendipities with health issues on expeditions, and probably a stroke of luck, that nobody else was sick.

He would emerge from his room a few times a day for a limited period, visit the hospital, examine specimens collected by the team, make suggestions for fieldwork locations, and then return to his room.