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  • Day71

    Komodo Dragons

    February 23, 2018 in Indonesia ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

    For two hours we had a wonderful walk through a tropical rainforest in Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Hot and humid, our walk through the woods was very similar to our daily walk through the Uwharrie Mountains. It was the first time we had seen orchids growing in the wild. We also saw a bright yellow oriole, slightly larger than orioles in our neck of the woods. Of course, our main objective was to see the legendary Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest lizard, which lives only here in Indonesia. In a clearing we finally came upon four big males, one female in the woods behind us, and one 3-year-old baby. Komodo Dragons live about 50 years, and grow to about 15-18 feet long. Males are larger and heavier than females. Interestingly, when males are not available, the females can lay and hatch their eggs without male fertilization (parthenogenesis). On the whole, the girls think this is a pretty good arrangement. Komodo Dragons are very aggressive, and can run about as fast as a human. They can smell blood up to 2 miles away and will attack with no provocation. KD eggs are incubated by the sun. Both KD eggs and KD babies are regularly eaten by adult KD’s and by many other critters in the woods. The best guess is that only about 20% of their eggs hatch, and that no more than 2% of the hatchlings ever make it past KD kindergarten. As soon as they hatch, the youngsters are often eaten by the parents, so the kids will shelter up in a tree until mom and/or dad leaves. The adults’ favorite food is wild hog, but there are also many, many deer in these woods. So venison is on the KD menu when pork is not immediately available. We feel so blessed to be able to see these wonderful creatures, and for the diligence of our guides (especially for the young man Suparho, who carried the big forked stick) in showing us the Komodo Dragons and allowing us to come back to tell the tale. Thanks also to the wonderful staff onboard the Viking Sun, who can get 900 of us geriatric adventurers into a tropical rainforest and back, and make it look easy.Read more