It's sad to see that my first page of search results on Google gave me a list of computer software named Komodo instead of a reptile named Komodo which reside on an island called Komodo Island (lies between the substantially larger neighboring islands Sumbawa to the west and Flores to the east).
I've heard about this reptile since I was a young boy and I could only imagine that this reptile ought just like lizard. But lately I found that I was wrong because in fact Komodo (Varanus komodoensis) is an ancient carnivore, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 meters (6.6 to 9.8 ft) and weighing around 70 kilograms. Wow, that's a giant lizard!
Their body size is an affect of so called island gigantism, a phenomenon that caused by the lack of carnivore predators in their habitat and their low metabolism. Thus, they dominate the ecosystem (no other animals eat them). Komodo will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans!
Komodo dragons were first documented by westerner in 1910, when rumors of a "land crocodile" reached Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek of the Dutch colonial administration. Later, Peter Ouwens (the director of the Zoological Museum at Bogor, Java) published a paper on the topic after receiving a photo and a skin from the lieutenant, as well as two other specimens from a collector.
Komodo was a name given by W. Douglas Burden on a second expedition at 1926, while the locals call the lizard as Ora. Komodo is a very aggressive animals even when they looked very tame. Phil Bronstein (Sharon Stone's ex-husband) was a victim of violence by the dragon. He was bitten and need serious surgery to recover.
The interesting part is this carnivore only inhabits the islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang in Indonesia. Not only the Komodo, local people also reside on that island and endanger the life of Komodo (well, sometimes Komodo endanger humans too).
These volcanic islands are inhabited by a population of around 5,700 giant lizards. They exist nowhere else in the world and are of great interest to scientists studying the theory of evolution.
I like to say that Komodo Island is a unique tourism destination, where prehistoric animals still alive and shares the land with human being. The island also known as Taman Nasional Komodo by The Government of Republic of Indonesia or Komodo National Park.
It's not difficult to get there. To see the real Komodo with our own eyes, we can go to Bali and go to Labuan Bajo, Flores by land transport.
While most visitors enter Komodo National Park (KNP) through the gateway cities of Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores or Bima in eastern Sumbawa, the departure point for your trip is actually Denpasar, Bali. Komodo National Park website..
As a gate to Komodo Island, there are many travel agents at Labuan Bajo that serve tours to Komodo Island. There are various itinerary and the cost is started from US$ 250 for 3 days and 2 nights trip. We can also take travel agent from Bali with higher rate, including flight from Denpasar to Sumbawa on Fokker 50.
The price is excluding Komodo National Park's conservation fee (US$ 15) and travel/personal insurance. Insurance is an important thing because the island is a large and dry savanna and a tropical island. One more note to remember, Komodo's saliva is very poisonous. We don't want them to bite us, especially when we have no personal insurance
Not forget to mention, bring jacket or any warm clothes. It's hot in the day but could be very cold in the night. Sun block cream is also suggested. And since the tour package and price might be changed, we better ask for any information from hotels in Bali first or refer to information of how to go to Komodo Island (there are information of how long the trip will be).
Don't forget to bring snorkeling/diving equipments because there are some beautiful snorkeling/diving spots that you should not miss. It's suggested to bring our own diving/snorkeling equipments although we will also find many rentals there. Snorkeling/diving rate (and equipments) is excluded from the price above, otherwise mentioned.
They have oceanic regulators and gauges, buddy BCD, prescription masks minus 1.5 up to minus 8, 5 and 3 mm suits, long and short, boots and fins, computers. In case it is not available because of any reason, they will suggest us to take along or hire them in Bali before travel to do dive in Komodo.
As mentioned on Komodo National Park's official website, there are many diving spots shown on the website. Tanjung Rusa, Toro Oi, Lohwenci, GPS Point, Tukoh Serikaya, Tukoh Lehokgebah, Banana Split, Batu Saloka, Letuhoh Reef are just a few. It's not a place for beginner, but if we're lucky enough, we might encounter 8 meter manta ray. What a wonderful place to visit!
Because of its exoticsm, The Komodo Island should be nominated and voted on the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign. I don't have to wait to experience the adventure on Komodo Island to put my voice on the campaign. It's the only place where human and dragon live together, in a real world!
Apart from its beauty, the park is facing another problem. Blast fishing, cyanide fishing, reef gleaning, fish traps, over-harvesting and live reef fish trade are threaten the ecosystem. UNESCO has put the site as world heritage and together with Komodo National Park they manage to save the site.
To spread the name of Komodo National Park around the world (and internet), Bubu Internet (a web developer and media company) in collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Tourism set up a blog writing contest to escalate the voice. Everyone may take a part in the contest and get a chance to win the prizes.
Aside from the prize, the blog competition is a great effort to increase the awareness of the people. Beautiful place such as Komodo Island should be heard and known by the world.
Credits: Images in this post taken from National Geographic, Jenny Huang's Flickr and Komodo National Park. Copyrights are belong to their respective owners.