|Lake Ira Lalaro|
Lake Ira Lalaro
|Primary outflows||Irasiquero River|
|Basin countries||East Timor|
|Max. length||6.5 km (4.0 mi)|
|Max. width||3 km (1.9 mi)|
|Surface area||Average 1.9 km2 (0.73 sq mi)|
|Surface elevation||318 m (1,043 ft)|
|Settlements||Mehara, Malahara, Poros, Muapitine|
Lake Ira Lalaro (also Iralalaro, Ira-Lalaro, Surubec, Suro Bec) is a waterway in Mehara, Subdistrict Tutuala, Lautém District of East Timor. It is the largest freshwater lake on the island of Timor, and the largest lake in the country of East Timor. The lake is part of the Mount Paitchau Important Bird Area. The lake waters and that of Irasiquero River are a closed aquatic system; they lie within a huge polje. The surface water area fluctuations from 10–55 square kilometres (3.9–21.2 sq mi) while the authigenic catchment area measures 406 square kilometres (157 sq mi).
Geography and geology
Ira Lalaro is in the far east of Timor island, and is part of the Nino Konis Santana National Park (680 square kilometres (260 sq mi), which was established in August 2007 by East Timor. The lake is located in a basin bounded by the Paitchau Mountains, within the Lospalos plateau. The region has karstic formations of limestone, with dolines, blind valleys, caves and springs. Ira Lalaro has an average water spread area of 1,900 hectares (4,700 acres), which varies from 1,000–5,500 hectares (2,500–13,600 acres)). It is in a high plateau depression at an elevation of 334 metres (1,096 ft) "formed by a huge polje karst formation". The lake flows to the east and as the lake water recedes during the dry season the land exposed becomes a pasture or scrubby grassland. The lake basin is surrounded by tropical dry forest which is of biodiversity value. The Irasiquero River, which originates from Lake Ira Lalaru, disappears in the main sink hole, the Mainina, about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) downstream of the lake outlet, and does not re-appear; tracer studies indicate that the underground route of water flow leads to the coast. There are human settlements in the area.
The biodiversity of the lake's aquatic system, including the Irasiquero River, is that of a wetland ecosystem. The forest area is largely undisturbed. In the absence of continuous surface water flow, the invertebrates found in the lake and in the river consist of macroinvertebrate belonging to 57 families but sans decapod crustaceans. Island pitviper (Cryptelytrops insularis) and Wood scorpions (Lychas mucronatus) are reported in the flood plains of the lake. Estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) (about 200-500) are also found in the lake. It is not hunted by local people as it is their totem animal. McCord's Long-necked Turtle Chelodina mccordii is also reported from the lake and the river. The local name of the Chelodinamccordi Timor lestensis is ‘‘beo’’ which is also known as a Roti Island snake-necked turtle. Export of this species to other countries requires the approval of the government of Timor-Leste. There are 21 fish species in the lake, one of which is endemic, Craterocephalus.
The lake area has both migratory and resident water birds. It is part of the Mount Paitchauand Lake Iralalaro Important Bird Area (IBA). One of globally threatened bird species reported is the Yellow-crested Cockatoo (critically endangered). Other species reported are: Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), Wandering Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna arcuata), Common Coot (Fulica atra), Swinhoe's Snipe, Australasian Grebe (Tachybaptusnovaehollandiae), Timor Green Pigeon, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Spot-breasted White-eye, and Black-banded Flycatcher. There are 16 species of bats (cave roosters) such as fruit bat (Rousettus amplexicaudatus) (Geoffroy's rousette), Canut's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus canuti), and Hipposideros sumbae.
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