Komodo dragons live on only five remote islands in southeastern Indonesia. 🐉🏝
The islands are volcanic in origin, and the terrain there is hilly, rugged, and covered in open plains.Since they only live in a few remote locations, Komodo dragons are extremely vulnerable to extinction. Population size has decreased dramatically in the past 50 years due to humans destroying their habitat and killing their prey. There are currently less than 6,000 left in the wild. As such, the Indonesian government has made an effort to preserve their habitat in the Komodo National Park. The Komodo National Park encompasses four of the five islands where the dragons live: Komodo, Rinca, Gili Montang, and Gili Dasami. They can also be found on the island of Flores, which is not part of the national park, and where the dragon population continues to decline. 😢Now aside from this threat, Komodo dragons have no natural predators and are at the top of the food chain. They are the world’s heaviest lizard and also the deadliest.They use their tongue to smell prey from over two miles away, and have venomous glands situated in their lower jaw, which releases a poisonous toxin with each bite. ☠After they bite the animal, they slowly track it for the following 2-3 days waiting for their poison to kill it. They are known to eat up to 80% of their body weight, and have no problems swallowing the monkeys, deer, and horses that live on this island. 😮Although they live on this remote island in Indonesia, they are also strong swimmers, and have been known to paddle elsewhere to find their next meal. Crocodiles and Komodo dragons? Don’t think I’ll be swimming near here anytime soon! ❌ 🏊♀️They also have no problem eating their own babies, and their young will sometimes roll in feces to deter their blood-thirsty parents. 💩The picture below is an old nest where a female typically lays up to 30 grapefruit-sized eggs.The eggs need nine months to incubate, but the female usually abandons the nest after three months. When she returns after their birth, they know not to get near her for fear of being eaten! They will typically hid in trees for up to three years before feeling safe enough to come down! 😲🌳
When visiting this island, I was cautioned by my guide to keep a safe distance from the dragons, stay close to the group, and also not to even visit if I was menstruating, since the dragons would smell the blood and might attack.Luckily, Komodo dragons are lazy, and prefer not to hunt humans. They would rather crawl into their graves and eat them after they’ve already been buried! 😲⚰It was truly unsettling to visit this gruesome and cannibalistic creature. Here I am trying not to look petrified! 🤣Here’s a short video from my visit. Watch as the big guy uses a tree to scratch his face!
How to Visit:
I chose to trek for Komodo Dragons on Rinca Island. This island is preferable over the others due to its smaller size. We did not have to walk much until we found heaps of dragons laying around. In fact, there were about 5 dragons hanging around the ranger station alone!Trekking on Rinca was also incredible for the view! 😍From the top of Rinca, we had views of the surrounding deep blue waters filled with regal sail boats, hilly islands strewn across the horizon, and vibrant green forests thriving near the coastline. 😍
Cost: my trek was part of a 3-day scuba liveaboard in the Komodo National Park. That being said, if you fly into Labuan Bajo, there are 10-20 tour operators lining the streets that all offer competitive prices on one-day treks to search for the dragons. They usually combine it with a scuba or snorkeling trip too! I think it’s better to book on arrival as well, since you’ll get a better deal. 😉
Up next I’m heading back home to the good ol’ U.S. of A. I might even put out some posts about great things to do where I’m from! Until then! 🇺🇸