INDONESIA'S Real-Life DRAGONS | Sunday Observer

INDONESIA'S Real-Life DRAGONS

 Dragons are mythical creatures, right ? But there is one country in the world where they actually live.

No, it is not China. This fierce dragon comes from Indonesia, particularly the Indonesian island of Komodo. Hence the name Komodo Dragon, which was coined by Douglas Burden, one of the first Westerners to see the animal.

The Komodo dragon is not your average fire-breathing dragon. During a recent visit to Indonesia, I had the rare opportunity of seeing a Komodo at close range and nothing you have heard about this huge animal prepares you for the encounter. Its ‘dragon’ title probably comes from the forked tongue, with which it smells food sources.

The Komodo is the largest lizard in the world, at nearly 3 metres long and was initially called “the land crocodile”. It belongs to the monitor family, which is a common sight in our country. The Komodo is sometimes described as a living fossil as fossilized skeletons of similar animals have been dated back 3.8 million years.

The Komodo has remained much the same for nearly one million years. Scientists believe that the Komodo actually evolved in Australia before the continents drifted apart.

But how did it survive for so long as a species ? The answer is that it has lived in mostly isolated islands without predators, which allowed it to thrive. It is itself a predator, hunting mammals, birds and insects. Deer is a favourite target and very rarely, a provoked Komodo can attack a human, though obviously it cannot eat a human. Komodos take up to nine years to mature and can live up to 30 years in the wild. Life is difficult if you are a young Komodo, because some adult Komodos are known to eat young ones. Young Komodos are also very shy around humans and will run away.

The Komodo has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with only around 3,000 animals left in the Indonesian wild.

The Komodo is a popular zoo animal and can be seen at over 50 zoos worldwide. The best places to see a Komodo is Indonesia’s own Komodo National Park which covers the three islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature.

One interesting fact:

Burden’s 1926 expedition to Komodo Island was the basis for the 1933 movie King Kong, which was remade in 2005 under the same name. Komodo is no King Kong, but if you a few days to spare in Indonesia, give this Dragon a chance. 

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