TIMOR-LESTE 2013

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

Lake Maubara, Liquiça District

Hinrich was recovering steadily, his platelet counts were going up again, but it was too soon for him to be contemplating fieldwork or driving, so the team were crammed into my Troopie for an excursion to the west into Liquiça District in search of more toads, for the stomach content analysis sub-project, and any other herps we could find.

I decided to drive to Lake Maubara, a haunting lake with a petrified dead forest around its fringes, collect there and at two other suitable and comparable locations on the way back to Dili.

Map of Liquica to Maubara showing Lake Maubara and collection localities
Mouse-over for Google satellite map and click for enlarged topographic map.

 

The haunting Lake Maubara

At Lake Maubara I split the group into two teams, the Americans (Jay, Kevin, Julia and Claudia) and the Germans (Sven, Britta, Franziska and Laca - an honorary German for the day) and set them to finding toads.

The Troopie in the woods The German team seaching for toads

The German team found nine, the Americans found three but one of their's was the largest Asian black-spined toad we have seen in Timor-Leste, a female measuring 132mm which they christened "Big Bertha".

Heading back towards Dili, our next location was at Raeme on an old road left after a new causeway road had been constructed.

Raeme arid, saline, coastal scrub

We searched in the coastal palm scrub but found only a single toad, possibly due to the salinity of the habitat. We also found several Timor flying lizards (Draco timoriensis) in the trees.

The old road on the seaward side of the new causeway Coastal palm scrub habitat

 

Timor flying lizard (male),
Draco timoriensis

 

Several of the toads we found at Lake Maubara and Raeme appeared to have eye infections and some were seemingly blind. Whether this was caused by a fungus, a bacterium, a virus or a parasite was unclear but we thought to investigate this also as a natural control on cane toads in Australia, New Guinea and other locations is sorely needed.

Asian black-spined toad,
Duttaphrynus melanostictus
with an eye infection

 

We stopped at a shop and noticed an Ossuary, a bone church, painted in fairly bright colours. We had noticed an identically constructed and painted ossuary in Raça, Laca's village in Lautém District some 250 km east of this one in Liquiça.

The Ossuary

 

Our final location on the run back to Dili was on the far side of Liquiça town, at a place called Cassait, on a wooded hillside on the landward side of the coastal road.

Mangroves and drowned trees Wooded hillside

A few more toads were collected and a single Common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus).

Common house gecko
Hemidactylus frenatus