TIMOR-LESTE 2013

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

Raça, Lautém District

During the night it had rained heavily again, so our plans to visit Jaco Island were postponed, it required a short but potentially hazardous crossing in small boats and the rain and high winds made this unsafe.

Instead we decided to head to Raça, a village on the limestone plateau above Com where, on Phase V, we had collected geckos (Cyrtodactylus) and skinks (Sphenomorphus) in the caves. This time we had a specific goal. One the walk back down in 2011 we had crossed a coarse meadow scattered with lumps of limestone and under one of these we had sighted, but failed to capture, a skink we believed belonged to the genus Eremiascincus. So we set off for Raça hoping to bag a specimen. Raça is also Laca's home village so we are always made very welcome.

Map of Com to Bauro road showing limestone plateau and escarpment
and location of Raça and Raça caves.


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

 

When we arrived Hinrich told me he felt too unwell to join up on the hike to the meadows so he would remain in the lead Troopie, while I took the group up to look for the skink.

Raça village - Laca's home The rocky meadows above Raça
This is actually the track The team returns soaked through
Washing off the mud in Raça

 

In the end all we caught were a few Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) before the heaven's opened again, calling a halt to our search.

Common house gecko
Hemidactylus frenatus

In the afternoon the sun was out again and it was again pleasant and hot. Laca had rescued a young Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) which we had brought with us, intending to release it on Jaco Island, an uninhabited spirit island where we had previously found a hawksbill carapace. But it was becoming clear that due to the weather and Hinrich's illness we would not get to Jaco, so we elected to release the turtle into the sea from the beach at the Com Beach Resort.

The author with the sea turtle prior to release
Pacific hawksbill sea turtle
Eretmochelys imbricata bissa