If you read the words “Komodo Dragon”, what comes to mind? Chances are that your imagination and the actual reality are not too far apart. Despite the incredible mythologies that have sprouted up over the years about this spectacular beast, many of the stories you may have heard actually have a significant grain of truth to them.
Since being “discovered” by the Western world in the early part of the 20th century, the Komodo Dragon has been justifiably regarded the most infamous of the world’s many lizard subspecies. When first encountered by Dutch sailors in the 1910s, it was described as being as much as 23 feet long and spitting fire – of course untrue exaggerations – and this was quickly debunked by an official from the Dutch Colonial Administration in Flores, Lieutenant Steyn van Hensbroek. He went with a band of soldiers to Komodo Island where he managed to kill one of the beasts and take it back to headquarters for measuring. It turned out to be 2.1 metres (6.9 feet) long – still quite impressive for a lizard. And it’s possible that their long forked tongues may have been “mistaken” for fire.
Now, the Komodo is known to be the largest living lizard on the planet weighing as much as 155 pounds (70 kg) and growing to as much as 10 feet (3 metres) long. They’re also famed for their hunting strategies which involve spending long periods of time in a secluded spot waiting for their prey to come around the area. They then strike with their very powerful jaws, venomous serrated teeth and sharp claws, taking down their victims with remarkable efficiency and speed.
Their eating habits are equally impressive. They’ve been known to eat as much as 80% of their body weight in a single feeding, gulping down unusually large chunks of meat in single bites.
They are absolutely carnivorous and must be respected from a distance. As the main predator in the region, Komodos are known to eat just about anything including carrion, deer, pigs and, in extreme cases, large water buffalo, humans and even smaller dragons. Despite their dangerous nature, it’s entirely possible to check them out on a visit to any one of the Komodo, Gila Motang, Rinca or Flores islands.
There are at present about 3,000 to 5,000 Komodo Dragons in the archipelago, although poaching, human activity, natural disasters and a lack of egg-laying females have led to it being placed on the endangered list. They are, in fact, protected under Indonesian law and Komodo National Park was established to protect this fascinating animal.
To see the Komodo Dragon and explore other Indonesian activities and itineraries, check out the many fully customizable options that Nezasa has on offer.