Liberia - Goe Fantro

Accounts and photos of non-captive reptiles in their natural habitat outside of South Africa. Try to record with your account details such as time of day/night, temperature, weather conditions, lunar cycle, sex, rough age of reptile, and so on.

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Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Mon Dec 20, 2010 2:45 pm

Just for you BV ;)

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I am now up in Liberia until the 9th of February next year. I am about an hour and a half drive from Monrovia (on relatively good roads), very close to the Firestone corporation’s large rubber plantations and one of their main rubber production facilities. The area is pure jungle, extremely thick and with a high canopy. The view from my room overlooks the Goe Fantro mountain as you can see below, which is only a few hundred metres above sea level. The place is very close to the ocean, and the temperature and humidity are fairly high.
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The camp is full of palm trees, which are inhabited by hundreds of weaver birds, both the black headed weaver and the Vieillots Black Weaver
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I’ve only been here a couple of days and haven’t had a chance to do much as yet, but the camp as usual is overrun with Agama agama, which seem to have a lot more blue in them than their east African counterparts which appear mostly to be a more blackish colour. The females here are also much more brightly coloured and more intricately patterned. I will try and get some more shots of these.
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I think this is a Trachylepis sp
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A couple of the inverts I’ve seen so far including these interesting ants, which flew up into a cluster around one of the lights last night. Some of them had lost their wings, they are a pale green colour and are quite large. I popped a couple into the freezer, so when they calm down I will try and get some better close ups.
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Mark
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Viridovipera » Tue Dec 21, 2010 12:22 am

COOL! Post everything as soon as you see it! I was over in Cote d'Ivoire until the recent shinanagans began and even there the Agama agama didn't have that brilliant blue color. Very cool!

-Alex
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Zophos » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:55 am

Very Nice.

Please keep the pics coming.

Kind Regards
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Tue Dec 21, 2010 3:49 pm

The guys called me out to move a snake for them that they found inside the perimeter of the camp, it had gone under a piece of concrete rubble that was lying just under the pallisade fence. It is obviously a night adder of sorts, although I am not sure if it is a West African Night Adder Causus maculatus, or a Lichtenstein's night adder Causus lichtensteinii, although I am more convinced that it is the latter from the other pics on the net I have found. If anyone can confirm an ID it would be much appreciated. The snake was very calm, although it did hiss a little bit after a few minutes and was only interested in trying to get away. It made no attempt to bite and sat quite still whilst I was taking pictures of it. Excuse the quality of those, it was a little difficult as I had the snake in the wrong hand and was wearing a really crappy pair of gloves that I grabbed off one of the locals. A very attractive and healthy looking specimen…
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Bushviper » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:36 am

I wonder if those gloves would have prevented a full strike? I guess in an emergency then "'n boer maak 'n plan".

Pretty animal although I have no idea which one it is. Hopefully someone with more knowledge of West African herps can tell you. Are you still collecting DNA?
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby armata » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:41 am

Nice work Sico - def Causus maculatus. They can be found both in forest and dry areas in W.Africa.
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby moloch » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:26 pm

You are lucky to spend time is some many interesting places. Those Agama are really stunning! I am looking forward to all of the invert pics as well as everything else.

Regards,
David
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:56 pm

Ha yeah @ BV, they weren't the optimal barrier device, but better than nothing. Trust me, if it had been a bigger snake then I would have used the tongs they have on site (someone with a bit of forethought bought a decent pair for each of the camps). And yes, I am still collecting DNA for WW, although I only brought a handful of tubes with me, not expecting to be coming across as much out here as I did in Uganda. I may be proven wrong though...
Thanks Armata for that ID, I haven't got any books on West African Herps, and using the internet as a guide isn't always guaranteed to be helpful (or factual).
Moloch, I haven't seen too many interesting inverts myself yet, although this is considered the "dry" season. I have seen one or two pics of some insects that other guys have taken, and there are some stunning lepidoptera out here which I will do my best to try and shoot for you, but no promises ;)
There is apparently a resident mamba in the camp in one of the palm trees. It has been there for several months now and I should be getting some pics of it from someone this afternoon, not having seen it myself I am interested to see what it is. If the pics are decent i'll post them up here as well.
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Wolf777 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:10 pm

Sico you have an awesome job man, seems like you're in paradise the whole time. Awesome posts man, keep them coming.
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:30 pm

Just after 17h30 one of the guys came to call me to catch a snake that fell out of one of the palm trees by the office compound. Hoping it was the “mamba” I rushed out there to find this little C. maculatus trying to squeeze into a hole amongst the roots. The guys said it had just fallen out the tree; it had obviously eaten something up there (lizard, frog, young weaver bird?) and was a bit wobbly with a fat tummy. Interesting thing is it was about 4m off the ground where it fell from. Thankfully one of the guys had some real thick leather gloves, cos although this fellow was about half the size of the one I got yesterday, it had twice the attitude and sunk a fang well into the leather leaving a nice wet venom spot. I’m rather pleased that it was not my finger…
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As for the “mamba”, the pics I have are not very good, taken at night time with a weak flash and not very good zoom. You can clearly see a very large thin greenish snake up in the crest of the palm tree, I’d estimate around 2-3m and looking very much like a mamba indeed. I am hoping that this would be Dendroaspis jamesoni, as I would love to get some pics of a wild one. Hopefully I will see it whilst I am up here and get some shots.
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby s'mee » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:00 pm

Yes, definitely Causes maculatus.

The mamba would most likely be be Dendroaspis viridis - it is very common in the rubber plantations around Harbel - D jamesoni hasn't been recorded that far west, although if memory doesn't fail me, I think there was a a record of one or two from Ghana many years ago.

I was part of the original start up and ground truthing team at Geo Fantro around five years back - Liberia has long been one of my favorite places in West Africa, even if I could never understand their version of English.....
If ignorance is bliss, there must be a lot of happy people out there...
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:26 pm

Thanks for that S'mee, it's interesting that you have been out here now, I am sure the place has changed a lot. I assume then that you originally stayed out in the Cotton Tree compound that I have heard about? What other species did you find out here when you were here?
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Sico » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:34 pm

Also, what are the major differences between D.jamesoni and D. viridis ?
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby Viridovipera » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:10 pm

Cool cool cool cool cool COOL! Keep it coming!

As for West African snakes, the current guide (which is not very current at all) is Chippaux's book in French. It's got a key of all the snakes then known. Stuck in Liberia without a postal address? No worries, here it is on google books: http://books.google.com/books?id=dEUChcYeyJkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=chippaux+serpent+afrique+occidental&hl=en&ei=X2gSTZeSOMOChQeRsKG4Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false It's in French, but it's pretty easy to translate -- especially the dichotomous key. Just make sure you get some good shots of the head scales ;)

Can't say how much I loved them. If I make it back to Cote d'Ivoire before April, maybe I'll take a bus over to say hello!

-Alex
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Re: Liberia - Goe Fantro

Postby armata » Thu Dec 23, 2010 10:42 am

Jameson's mamba is common in southern Nigeria, extralimital in Ghana and does not occur beyond the Dahomey gap; only viridis beyond there. The record of the night adder 4m up a tree is really interesting.
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