“The world’s largest true lizards” is how the Komodo dragons are best described. They grow to about 10 feet (3.05 meters) in length and weigh up to 300 pounds (135 kilograms). Because of their size, they fear no other animal on the small islands in Indonesia on which they live; in fact, they are the top predators on those islands.
Notwithstanding their massive size and dominating presence in their habitat, the Komodo dragons need to be protected to remain extant. In fact, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has categorized – in its IUCN Red List – the Komodo dragons as “vulnerable” species, that is, they are at “high risk of endangerment in the wild.”
The Komodo dragons are known to live exclusively in at least six islands in Indonesia: Flores, Gili Mota, Padar, Rintja, Owadi Sami, and, of course, Komodo. It is estimated that about 4,000 to 5,000 Komodo dragons are still living (in the wild) in these six islands.
Similar to most cold-blooded reptiles, the Komodo dragons sleep during the night; their favorite resting places are among rocks and tree roots. In the morning, when their blood is warmed by the sun, they begin searching for food. Monkeys, wild pigs and deer are their favorite prey. But they are cannibals too, as they will eat smaller Komodo dragons after overpowering them.
Mating of Komodo dragons takes place in late June or July. After five weeks from the time of mating, the female lays about a dozen eggs in a hole she herself dug in the warm, moist earth. (The number of eggs female Komodo dragons lay depends on their size and age.) After laying her eggs, the female covers them; she then leaves the eggs to incubate, sans her care, under the heat of the sun.
Eight months later, the young Komodo dragons hatch. Small (each baby dragon measuring only about 8 inches/20 centimeters long) and unprotected, it is retaliation time for the other predators on the islands which spot them. Left unharmed five years from hatching, Komodo dragons will have reached 6 feet (1.83 meters) in length.
There is now a greater awareness on the need to protect the Komodo dragons after the IUCN’s “vulnerable” categorization of these species. On this note, the proposed development of eight gold mines near the Komodo National Park in Indonesia is now being seriously reviewed.
1. “Komodo Dragon,” on Honolulu Zoo (online) – http://www.honoluluzoo.org/komodo_dragon.htm
2. “IUCN Red List,” on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IUCN_Red_List
3. “Category: IUCN Red List vulnerable species,” on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Category:IUCN_Red_List_vulnerable_species&from=K
4. “Gold mining threatens world’s most infamous reptile, the Komodo dragon,” by Jeremy Hance, on mongabay.com, August 24, 2009 – http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0824-hance_gold_komodo.html