Komodo National Park is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both terrestrial animals such as the orange-legged bush fowl, endemic rats, and Timor deer and marine life. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park’s biological importance.
They seem docile and slow… but with sharp teeth and large claws, we are advices keep our distance.
A group of rangers with forked wooden sticks are there to protect us.
“We use the stick to push them away”, they tell us.
“But when they are aggressive that’s not enough. Then we have to run.”
Here are the interesting facts about the Komodo Dragon:
- Where it Gets Its Name: The Komodo dragon gets its name from the island, as well as the fearsome reputation as an aggressive animal.
- Where You Can Find It: Komodo dragons can only be found in Pulau Komodo, Flores, Gili Matang, Gili Dasami and Rinca at Nusa Tenggara Timur Indonesia.
- How It Hunts: This animal species is dangerous and can be deadly, due to its strong bite and poisonous saliva. It is said to be anticoagulant, which means it prevents blood from clotting, creating a condition where the prey continuously bleeds out. After the prey dies from its injuries, the dragon then tracks it and finally feasts on it.
Source: Caters News Agency
- The Largest Lizard in the World: Other than that, it is the largest lizard the world has ever seen, with the length spanning 2-3 meters. The Komodo dragon is the last representation of a population of lizards that once lived throughout Indonesia and Australia. Komodo in Komodo National Park is the largest and heaviest lizard in the world, with a weight of more than 300 kilograms.
- Life Span and Characteristics: This carnivorous reptile can live up to 30 years. The Komodo dragon has a long head and round muzzle, scaly skin, bent legs, and a large muscular tail. Komodo dragons that have been breeding for millions of years can walk up to seven miles per day.
- Mating Ritual: Once a year, when these reptiles are ready to mate, the female Komodo dragon will lay out its feces for the male Komodo to follow. The pregnant female Komodo dragon will lay about 30 eggs, which are then buried in the ground until they hatch eight months later. Meanwhile, male Komodo dragons sometimes wrestle with each other for mating rights. However, when there are no males, female Komodo dragons have other ways of reproducing. Female Komodo dragons have male and female sex chromosomes, so that female Komodo dragons can reproduce asexually in a process called parthenogenesis.
- Legend of the Komodo Dragon: Legend has it that Komodo Dragons originate from the son of a Putri Naga (translated as Dragon Princess) and Moja. It was once told that Putri Naga married a man named Moja from another island. The princess became pregnant and gave birth to twin sons. One is named ‘Orah’ as he looked like a lizard while the other was named Gerong. Due to embarrassment from having a son that looked like a lizard, the family exiled Orah into the forest, while Gerong was brought up in a normal family household. Alas, one day Gerong was deer hunting in the forest and came across a large lizard. He was about to kill it, when his mother appeared and begged him not to kill the lizard, for it was his own brother. It was due to this story that locals in the island called the dragons ‘Orah’ and treat it as if it were their own family members.