Photo Friday: Indonesia’s Komodo Dragons

Three Komodo dragons at the UNESCO World Heritage Komodo National Park

I took this Photo Friday image of these three gigantic komodo dragons on UNESCO World Heritage-listed Komodo Island in Komodo National Park off the coast of Flores Island in Eastern Indonesia. They are found only on four volcanic islands that rise Jurassic-park-like from the sea.

Three of them are sunbaking at a waterhole when I visit. Each is three-meters-long with prehistoric claws, beady eyes and scaly skin, which looks like woven metal armor. It feels like I’ve done a Dr Who and dropped into a dinosaur convention. Our diminutive guide is armed with nothing but a pronged stick. One heaves itself up and lurches towards me, so close I can hear its guttural hiss. A foot-long pink forked tongue darts in and out of its mouth. Meanwhile, saliva is drooling from the other two. Even DreamWorks couldn’t have come up with scarier looking creatures. Suddenly, my walk in the Komodo Islands National Park doesn’t feel like…well…a walk in the park anymore. Komodo dragons are the product of island gigantism, which creates monster versions of regular animals because they have no predators and nowhere to go. The world’s largest lizard, komodo dragons have sixty teeth and a mouth full of nasty bacteria.  All the more easy to kill you and swallow you whole. The white stuff in their poo is actually pulverized bones. Female dragons (which can produce babies without mating) lay their eggs in megapod bird nests as a sort of decoy because other dragons often try to eat the eggs. Young dragons even have live up in trees to avoid being eaten by their parents! I remember that the fictitious volcanic island in the original King Kong movie was inspired by American millionaire Douglas Burden’s 1932 expedition to the Komodos with the American Museum of Natural History. In technicolor before my eyes was what he described as “a vast mass of torn and splintered mountains…With its fantastic sky line, its sentinel palms, its volcanic chimneys bared to the stars, it was a fitting abode for the great saurian we had come so far to seek.”

Your say

It is always confronting to come up close beside such ancient and scary looking creatures. I’d love to hear about any of your experiences like this!

Komodo Island

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Komodo Island -8.515836, 119.498291

Sue Gough Henly

Sue Gough Henly is award-winning travel writer and photographer whose bi-line has appeared in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, The Guardian, The Toronto Star and all the major Australian publications. Her travel blog, Genuine Journeys, is full of insider tips on the best places for authentic experiences and luxury splurges. She is also the author of Australia’s Best Places travel app. When she doesn’t have sand between her toes or a pack on her back, she writes about food, wine and culture.

2 comments to Photo Friday: Indonesia’s Komodo Dragons

  • Amanda Simpson  says:

    Yikes…those dragons look pretty scary!

    • Sue Gough Henly  says:

      Yeah, they are and they can move pretty fast when they want to!

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