Here be dragons. (Hunt-Lenox Globe, 1503).
This phrase has been used for hundreds of years to denote danger, but on Komodo Island, it is absolutely true…AND it denotes danger! Just look at the first photo…after lazing in the sun when we first saw him, this Komodo dragon started flicking his tongue and lumbering toward us. They use their tongues to locate prey and can smell it up to six miles away. He was soon right where we had been standing, and crawled off into the bushes. The dragons are not fed, and they are free to roam around and kill and eat whatever they can find. They are the undisputed kings of the island. They measure around 8 feet long, and their tails make up about half their length. Adults weigh between 150-200 pounds. They take down, and devour, deer, pictured near the end of the photos, as well as huge water buffalo and wild boar (which we saw in the distance as we walked on the forest path). The dragons eat up to 80% of their body weight at one time and can live on just one meal per month.
This was our first time in Indonesia, and it was humid and beautiful. As for the dragons…there are only about 2,000 dragons on Komodo Island itself, with the other 4,000 divided among three other small islands. It is a national park, and we were only allowed to exit the ship if we had purchased an excursion. You may not visit on your own, as it is much too dangerous. Our group was led by, and backed up by, men with Komodo dragon “forks” – which you can see in the fourth photo and in all the photos with multiple dragons. They put the stick around its neck to push it in a different direction if it starts approaching people. We saw video of a dragon pursuing a deer, and it can move! It runs at a maximum of 12 mph. And, when unheeding tourists wander away from their group, thus making themselves vulnerable, the dragons may attack them. They have sharp serrated teeth and a venom that courses through a victim and eventually causes paralysis. Their faces look evil, don’t they? Conniving and sly. More like a Great White Shark, not cute and cuddly like smiling dolphins!
The second photo is sunrise on Komodo Island, taken from the ship. Just look at the gorgeous clouds! The park is very pretty to walk through, as you can see. We heard many birds, saw wild orchids, spotted some stunning (but poisonous) orange mushrooms, and bright yellow snails in one area were eating holes in the vegetation. The last photo was sort of funny. Being a huge cruise ship, we really do rule the sea. All the little fishing boats were sitting out in the bay, minding their own business. But as we approached, they suddenly realized they needed to scurry out of our path.