Tracking Komodo Dragons

Komodo, Indonesia

Komodo is a relatively small island , separated from much larger island of Flores by the Lintah Strait. A treacherous body of water where whirlpools created by mixing waters of Indian and Pacific Oceans can make divers fight hard to save their lives. So what can you do if not diving in manta and turtle infested waters around Komodo? Go on the island tracking the great attraction of the National Park, a rather weird remnant of dinosaurs age, an animal aptly called „Komodo Dragon“.

You better start early because November is the hottest month of the year in Komodo with temperatures reaching 100F=40C. And so we did. Jumping off the boat after a pleasant night spent on the deck in protected Sabita Bay. At the Park Ranger Station we paid the entrance fee and picked up the young tracker to chase Komodo Dragons and other animals of the island: deer and wild pigs. It is about 7:30am and the air is already gone heating up over the coastal flatland as mom and tracker push mercilessly forward. Nothing can stop us in our quest to see Komodo Dragons. Those animals are no funny geckos on steroids. While they can reach the age of 60, dragons of more than 3m or 10ft length are quite common. People and dragons exercise mutual respect as both are carnivors but of the large animals living on the island they prefer deer over wild pigs. Majority population of large island of Flores are Christians so they joke about Komodo Dragons being Muslims for their distaste of wild pigs. If dragons kill the deer they frequently overstuff themselves and for a day or two they barely move until they at least partially digest their kill.

And this is our chance to find them. As we proceed on the trail we see in the bushes deer in small groups carefully watching us and testing our intentions as humans probably have a bad reputation just as the dragons. Less frequently we see wild pigs of more then decent size as they enjoy low status on the dragon priority list. As we move further into island’s interior, Mom the tracker points out to the rest of our group evidence of this strange animal in the trail dust.

What looks more or less like ashes of the last night’s fire place are piles of dragon poop in which we can find pieces of deer bones. What may look like bicycle tire imprints in the dirt of our trail are actually dragon tail prints. Finally the dragon footprints fill us with hope that the creature may not be far away. And here he is finally. Thankfully not very aggressive as he tries to clear out safely before we get too close to him.

And then he disappears in the safety of the bush and we can walk back to the jetty where our boat is waiting for us.

Let’s go diving again. It is too hot here!