Dragons Dragons Dragons
The Komodo Dragon is one of the wonders of the world. This prehistoric creature has roamed unchanged for ions, a real look into the land of dinosaurs and times long gone.
To see these creatures in their natural habitat is a once in a life time treat that we eagerly anticipated. We arrived at the anchorage off the Rincah Island Ranger Station and dinghied ashore, tied up at the convenient dock and were escorted to the ranger station. We knew we were in a strange land as a group of monkeys played about on the path.
We met the ranger and made arrangements to do the early morning tour, 7AM. I am not one to take many of the tours offered but this was just too alluring. The five km walk would be a great chance to stretch our legs.
We arrived at the appointed hour, paid the mired of permit fees—note we knew we were being double charged with an added “tax” we had been warned about. I got a bit miffed then reflected on the piddley amount of money this whole thing costs compared to the experience and the “tax” became tolerable.
Our smiling Indonesian guide warned us that we were looking for animals in the wild and although there are one thousand dragons on this small island there was no guarantee we would see any. This soon became unnecessary as we ran across five Dragons hanging about the cook shack. This provided us the great photo op but did not really make for seeing them as they roamed thousands of years ago.
We made our way up the arid valley and onto the ridge. The first critter we saw was a huge water buffalo thrashing in the thick weeds. We also saw some prehistoric birds in the thick.
As we reached the ridge the range stopped and indicated he saw a dragon but made us find it. Not too much of a hunt as it was just off the trail. The dragons lay in the early morning sun recharging and warming up so they can be docile this time of day. We even got to pose behind him as the ranger took a picture.
We continued up the path and saw two other dragons off the trail; this was a rare treat already seeing them in the wild. They are majestic critters and we were reminded of their danger. The Komodo Dragon has a lethal venom excreted when they bight their prey. The poison can take two weeks to kill a water buffalo and the patient dragon just follows its future meal along until it drops. Yikes, what a way to go, bitten then followed for two weeks until you fall and become dinner for the dragon. Dragons have been known to eat humans, there was evidence of one poor soul who wandered off the main path and only his camera was found. The slow lumbering dragon, when inspired, can easily out run a human.
All this came to mind as our primo dragon experience marched down the trail straight at us, tongue lurching a foot in front of him. He lifted his huge clawed feet in deliberate and fast stride as he came closer. I kneeled in front of him snapping pictures nervously until the ranger told me to get out of the trail. A few feet closer and I would have gotten a prize winning photo for sure, and it would have been the last one I ever took, hahahaa.
We found one more water buffalo grazing on the hill side before we made it back to the camp.
The preservation of the Komodo Dragon is very important to the Indonesians. They have been protected for some time and this seems to be the beginning of the concept of conservation here. We walked back the dock and back to Furthur having had yet another experience we will remember for life.