The Komodo Dragon
-Click the photos to view the data in a lightbox. For those of you who geek out over gear, all images were shot with either a Fujifilm X-T1 used by me or the X-Pro1 used by Jessie.
This week is Spring Break for many American schools and even though Jessie’s school is in Malaysia we have the same schedule. So for Jessie’s last spring break in South East Asia we wanted to do something special. We decided to visit Komodo Island and visit the famous Komodo dragons.
We spend three days on a live-aboard boat and visited both Komodo and Rinka islands. Both islands are a part of the Komodo National Park. The Komodo dragon is the closest thing to a living dinosaur there is and frankly, it’s not that far from it. According to Wikipedia, “…recent research suggests the large size of Komodo dragons may be better understood as representative of a relict population of very large varanid lizards (monitor lizards) that once lived across Indonesia and Australia, most of which, along with other megafauna died out after the Pleistocene.”
So what is the difference between a monitor lizard and a Komodo? Well for one thing, the size. The Komodo gets to be huge! It is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum length of 3 metres (10 ft) in rare cases and weighing up to approximately 70 kilograms (150 lb). [1. Ciofi, Claudio (2004). Varanus komodoensis. Varanoid Lizards of the World (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press). pp. 197–204. ISBN 0-253-34366-6.] They also have saliva that contains from 50 to 80 different bacteria. [2. National Geographic] This cocktail is deadly, once bitten you have about three to four days of agony before you die. That is if you get away. Because unlike the avaerage monitor lizard who runs away before you can even get close, the Komodo is aggressive. Our guides carried a large forked stick to ward them off. He used it once. Frankly, these lizards are terrifying!
My only regret is there was never anything to give a perspective to the size of these monsters. The closest thing was the photo of Alou and Jessie near one 2.5 meter one. But even that didn’t do the scale of these creatures justice. But I hope you can at least feel something when looking at these photos. We were fortunate in away. In the early ’90s they banned feeding the dragons for the public. Now they only feed them (or so we were told) when a VIP shows up. We happened to arrive on Rinka island the same time as a government dignitary was visiting and so they hung a goat or at least a part of a goat out to lure them in for the official. By the way, the Komodo can smell blood with it’s forked tongue up to 5 km away! I was a little nervous when I cut my leg while trekking in the Rinka forest. Yikes!