Archived Pages from 20th Century!!


Komodo Dragon
photo credit Mark Cherrington
Claudio Ciofi, University of Kent

Komodo Island National Park, Indonesia You might as well have stepped into Jurassic Park. You've just been dropped off on a remote, mountainous island deep in Indonesia, in a place that was marked on old mariner's maps "here be dragons." Your every sense is rapier-sharp. You feel the dry heat of the tropical sun burning into your skin as you rapidly scan the sere savannah landscape. They're here, you think. Somewhere. An H. L. Mencken line pops into your head: "Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits, nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." As you take your first hesistant step, looking back longingly at the boat speeding away into the Flores Sea, you begin to salivate, and dribbles of sweat run down the small of your back. For you know you're not the top of the food chain here. You're in the lair of the world's largest living reptile, the Komodo dragon, a scaly-skinned lizard that can grow over three meters in length and weigh as much as a lineman for the Dallas Cowboys. And like that putative lineman, it likes red meat. Lots of it. Deer and wild boar are its favorite prey, but it has few scruples when it comes to satisfying its enormous appetite. Relying on its keen sense of smell, it will track down and eat birds, reptiles, sea-turtle eggs, carrion, monkeys, young buffaloes, even, in extremely rare cases, people. You've come to help the Komodo, which, believe it or not, needs it. Through loss of its habitat to human settlements and loss of its prey to wild dogs and poachers, the dragon is down to fewer than 5,000 individuals. This gargantuan monitor lizard has been around for millennia, yet today it stares into the face of extinction.

For more Information on this subject
680 Mt. Auburn St., P.O. Box 9104, Watertown, Massachusetts 02272-9104;
(800) 776-0188 fax: (617) 926-8532
Join us today