Monte Tatamailau

Country/territory: Timor-Leste

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2 (2007)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 30,245 ha

Site description
The highest mountain on Timor (and second highest in the Lesser Sundas) with extensive land (c.100 km2) above 1,500 m. It has various names including the ‘Ramelau Mountains’ (Pegunungan Ramelau), and is apparently known locally as ‘Rama Mailau’. In the early 1980s this site was characterised by “extensive forest cover and the fullest representation of montane Timor fauna including several endemic species” (FAO/UNDP 1982). However, there appear to have been substantial environmental change in the intervening years, as observations in 2005 suggest that very little natural tree cover persists in this IBA. During a visit in March 2002, P. Wurm (in litt. 2002) found that “Much of the surrounding countryside was cleared for grazing (goats, buffalo and horses) or presumably security reasons. There appeared to be few stands of original (“old growth”) forest, which were mainly near mountain crests. Most slopes were grass covered, or with upper slopes supporting even-sized eucalyptus regrowth. The mount itself supported eucalypt (Eucalyptus alba) open shrubland to closed shrubland, with a heath understorey (epacrids and herbaceous species). Towards the summit there was an upper story of emergent eucalyptus trees (E. urophylla), a middle story of reshooting eucalypts and a understorey of heath. The site is visited by religious processions and so has makeshift wooden structures and cleared areas just below the summit, including a beautiful wooden alter, much of which is surrounded by grassy lawns (presumably grazed)”.

Key biodiversity
Only limited ornithological survey work has been carried out in the Tata Mailau area, by G. Stein (in April–May 1932) and M. Bruce (in August 1972) (Mayr 1944, White and Bruce 1986, BirdLife International 2001), and Trainor et al. (2004) considered this IBA a priority for further fieldwork. Ten restricted-range species have been recorded to date, including the Endangered Timor Imperial-pigeon, but it is likely that more of these birds will be found there in the future.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Monte Tatamailau. Downloaded from on 06/12/2022.