Komodo is one of the 17,000 islands belonging to the Republic of Indonesia. The island is low lying, dry, dusty and extremely hot. It is particularly notable as the habitat of the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard on earth. The Komodo Dragons take about nine years to mature and are estimated to live up to thirty years.
Local men are expert rangers and act as guides to the many tourists who visit Komodo Island.
Cruise ships anchor in a picturesque bay and backpackers and nature lovers are ferried across from the neighbouring islands on a daily schedule. No one stays overnight.
Everyone was excited but apprehensive to see these formidable dragons. No-one really knew what to expect, but we had heard they could eat a child, can detect dead, decaying flesh from 9.5 kms and are capable of running rapidly in brief sprints at up to 20 km per hour. They can even climb trees to reach their prey.
We were divided into groups and formed a long line with guides at each end and one in the middle. We were even more scared to see our guides carrying long forked poles, which they told us, were to poke into the dragons’ eyes if they became dangerous! Wow!
With sunhats pulled down over our heads, perspiration streaming down our backs and clutching water bottles tight in our sweaty hands, we walked in single file keeping our eyes peeled and not daring to stray from the well delineated coral shell pathway. Suddenly our guide held up his hand; we all came to a standstill, peering into the brush. A shy young deer looked enquiringly at us. At least that one had escaped being dragon dinner! We continued on. One of our group pointed abruptly and the guide took a closer look. It was just a sleepy looking log in the undergrowth. On and on we walked, getting hotter and hotter. I was beginning to think the whole adventure was a fizzer.
Eventually we arrived at the watering hole to find lots of very large sleepy logs. They turned out to be gigantic dragons, but had obviously had their fill of food and water, and were enjoying a siesta.
We were the last of our group. As Johno and our friendly guide began to wander on, a Komodo suddenly reared up on its hind legs. Using its tail for support, this ugly species of lizard, began swinging his head from side to side and attacked a tree with its strong claws. We were told they even eat their young.
Everyone stood still watching in awe. Except for the soft click of cameras and i-phones there was total silence. These amazingly prehistoric animals mesmerized all twenty in our group.