East Timor RFI
I will be in East Timor in a couple of weeks. Does anyone know anything about mammal watching possibilities there?
Thanks very much Sebastian. That’s helpful. I will be there for 6 days but I will mainly be working in Dili. I will have a weekend though. Given what you said, I might try and get into the forest to look for some Pteropus griseus.. do you have any sites for these near to Dili? Otherwise maybe I will try and look for some cetaceans. I guess I can talk to local dive operators about this but if you have any other suggestions please let me know.
I did find 3 roosting sites of P. griseus back in 2008 if I remember correctly, about 10-15 individuals at each. Though I did re-visit two of these during my short stay in 2009 and found none, the P. vampyrus is the common Pteropus around Dili I believe and easy identifiable from all other Pteropus sp on Timor by its size alone. Never took any pelagic trips looking for cetaceans during my time in Timor, though been doing it both to the west (Lesser Sundas)) and to the east (Maluku(West Papua)of Timor and cetaceans is very, very common in these areas so would imagine that this is the case around Timor as well.
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Did spend roughly a week on Timor back in 2008 and three days in 2009. How many days will you be there?
There is some native mammals though mostly bats, several interesting near-endemic species and endemic subspecies present. I stumbled upon a few Cynopterus titthaecheilus, Pteropus griseus and P. vampyrus in the hills behind Dili. The Cynopterus (at least two species present, though very hard to tell apart in the field) seems to favour roosting in palms, so keep an close eye on these.
There is a large number of bats present, and as mentioned, several of them is near-endemic so checking any caves you come across is a good idea.
There is several endemic rodents/shrews but not sure how widespread these are since the majority is known only from a few localities in West Timor, the same applies to most endemic bat subspecies though when it comes to these I would assume that they can be found in East Timor as well. Have captured a Crocidura shrew in the hills behind Dili, and there is house mice and introduced Rattus sp in down-town Dili.
Introduced cuscus, crab-eating macaque and Rusa (Timor) deer is also very common and once on the countryside it should be no problem finding any of these, though they all seemed rare/very shy around Dili due to hunting. Same applied to most large bat species, checking good quality habitat away from Dili is the best bet, many of the Pteropus colonies I found in 2008 seemed nearly gone in 2009.