By Nk Soon, Youth Manager
Fire-breathing dragons may be fantasy, but Komodo Dragons are not. With the yellow color of its long, forked tongue that is a spitting image of fire, and it being an actual lizard, Komodo Dragons are the closest thing you can get to the mythical creatures.
These seemingly mythical creatures can reach up to 10 feet in length and more than 300 pounds, becoming the heaviest and biggest lizard. They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and huge, and muscular tails. Their population has diminished over the past 2,000 years to around 4,000, and only 350 of them are suspected to be breeding females. Komodo Dragons inhabit Gila Motang, Rinca, and Flores, islands in eastern Indonesia.
Why they are important: Komodo Dragons are incredibly important and are a part of history. It is known to be the largest lizard, a monitor lizard to be exact. They are an ancient species of reptile with ancestors that date back more than 100 million years! These Dragons have evolved alongside large mammalian carnivores and are the last of these giants, but within the last 2,000 years, their populations have diminished severely.
Why they are going extinct: Komodo Dragons are becoming endangered thanks to a dearth of egg-laying females, human encroachment, natural disasters, illegal hunting and loss of habitat to human settlement. As was the case with most large, spectacular animals the world over, Komodo Dragons were sought as trophies by big-game hunters. They also are killed for skins and feet to make novelties. Early in this century, many Komodo Dragons were trapped for sale to zoos and private collectors.
How we can help:
- Don’t buy any products made from Komodo Dragons – This will stop the selling of Komodo Dragon merchandise.
- Avoid buying timber or wood from the Komodo Island.
- When you go to a Komodo Island as a tourists, avoid harming them. Encountering these creatures are rare but if you do happen to meet one, follow these steps. Komodo Dragons are VERY dangerous and if one is near, shouting, loud noises, kicking the dragon’s face and neck, and strong blows from rocks and clubs are good defenses against a Komodo Dragon. DO NOT stab it as it will critically injure it and nearby Komodo Dragons will smell the blood and cause a frenzy.
Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.