It had always been one of the places I wanted to visit – and now I was here in the Komodo Islands to see the famous Komodo Dragons. We actually saw them in the island of Rinca (pronounced Rintja) as there is a higher chance of seeing them here – over 1700 of them live on Rinca. There were quite a few of us arriving during the afternoon as we all had to be in the park by 7am to see active dragons. After about 9am they go to sleep even though the tours continue throughout the day.
We split into small groups, each with our own guide and set off. Within a couple of minutes we saw our first dragon. They are HUGE – but look kinda docile. They can and do eat people so the guards all had forked sticks (!) to protect us. Their method of killing is quite clever – rather than chase, kill and eat their prey, they actually bite them and their saliva bacteria is so potent that the prey just dies over time – up to three weeks – and so the dragons just wait and then tuck in. They also eat the whole animal, bones and all which is evident in their droppings which are pure white – just the calcium left from the bones.
We opted for the long trek, which took a couple of hours up to the top of Rinca. On the way we saw a dragon feasting on a dead buffalo. It was about a week old, the stench was foul, but most of the carcass had been eaten. We could see the horns, rib cage and some other parts but the dragon just kept on eating, oblivious to the people watching, taking photos and talking.
We hiked up to the top of the island, and looked down on the boats. It was a lovely sight and we were surprised at how green the Island was.
On the way down we saw a young dragon who looks very like our monitors in Australia. They are left on their own after they hatch, and have to climb trees as other dragons will eat them. They stay up the trees for up to 3 years!!
We were exhausted at the end of the tour but very glad we did it – they are amazing animals and fully protected now by the Indonesian government. We headed back to the boats and set off to visit some of the other islands in the Komodo Park.