There’s not an awful lot to say about Komodo dragons, other than the fact that they are a huge lizard – the biggest in the world – and give us an indication of the reptilian megafauna that once stalked the earth.
They are not creatures I think anyone could find attractive. Respect, admiration and awe, but not affection. They are just too reptilian, too unknowable. What is going on in that tiny brain when it looks at us. Just the notion, I think, that we are edible!
I didn’t really like them, with their deer-chomping habits and slimy mouths, but they are magnificent animals and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to see them up close.
I must confess that they did have an air of dignity about them. When this large one approached the water hole to drink, we scattered, but he remained still, upright and alert (first photo) for some time before moving in for a drink. After all it was his water hole. Was he being cautious or dignified? Maybe a bit of both. He (or she) had probably been drinking there for decades whilst we were only spending a fleeting hour on the island.
The ones on the beach were said to have been fed occasionally, which is why they are very interested and attentive when zodiacs containing tourists arrive to gawp at them and take pictures.
The young ones, which spend most of their lives up trees to avoid being eaten by the larger ones, are almost cute. Until I saw one catch, kill and swallow a rat (below sequence).
It stalked it up a tree and then fell to the earth with a thud. It then raced off to a quiet spot (not so quiet on account of the photographers following it with their cameras!) and proceeded to swallow it whole. They shan’t be on my Christmas list. But like them or loath them, they deserve respect; for surviving so long if nothing else!
The poor animals which God, sorry evolution, has elected to be food for these giant lizards, are an attractive cervid called the Timor deer. It must be a rum existence never knowing when one of these lizards is going to inflict a venomous bite leaving you hobbling around waiting to be eaten. But perhaps only the weak and sickly get taken. This deer did not seem at all concerned about the presence of the dragons nearby.
All photographs taken in Komodo National Park in October 2016.
I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.