Greet Mr. & Mrs. Komodo Dragons! Vote and Save Them!
How would you feel if you could travel back in time and actually see dinosaurs?
Is it going to be as exciting as an African safari? No, it would of course be 100 times more exciting than that!
Komodo dragon, as some of you may already know, is the closest living creature to dinosaurs. In fact, Komodo dragon started their evolutionary journey 40 million years ago. They were originally from Asia but along with time, they migrated to Australia. The collision between Australia and Southeast Asia 15 million years ago brought Komodo dragon to Komodo National Park, Indonesia, which has since become their natural ecosystem.
* * *
The Komodo Dragon. Let’s Take a Closer Look
The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is a large species of lizard found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang. A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), it is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 metres (6.6 to 9.8 ft) and weighing around 70 kilograms (150 lb).
In the wild, an adult Komodo dragon usually weighs around 70 kilograms (150 lb), although captive specimens often weigh more. The largest verified wild specimen was 3.13 metres (10.3 ft) long and weighed 166 kilograms (370 lb), including undigested food. The Komodo dragon has a tail as long as its body, as well as about 60 frequently replaced serrated teeth that can measure up to 2.5 cm (1 inch) in length. Its saliva is frequently blood-tinged, because its teeth are almost completely covered by gingival tissue that is naturally lacerated during feeding. This creates an ideal culture for the virulent bacteria that live in its mouth. It also has a long, yellow, deeply forked tongue. Komodo dragons are endangered species.
Male komodo dragon. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA
A female guarding her nest which contains a clutch of eggs. Photograph: George Kourounis
The Komodo dragon is a solitary animal, except during the breeding season. It is a very territorial animal. It is active during the day, can climb trees, it is a good swimmer and has good eyesight. Although Komodo dragons eat mostly carrion, they will also hunt and ambush prey including invertebrates, birds, and mammals.
Young Komodo dragon escaping predation by larger dragons by climbing tree. Photograph: Fletcher & Baylis
Mating begins between May and August, and the eggs are laid in September. About twenty eggs are deposited in abandoned megapode nests and incubated for seven to eight months, hatching in April, when insects are most plentiful. Young Komodo dragons are vulnerable and therefore dwell in trees, safe from predators and cannibalistic adults. They take around three to five years to mature, and may live as long as fifty years. They are among the rare vertebrates capable of parthenogenesis, in which females may lay viable eggs if males are absent, producing only male offspring.
Komodo dragon hatching from egg . Photograph: Michael Pitts / naturepl.com
Threats and Conservation
The population of Komodo dragons today is estimated to be a mere fraction of its size 50 years ago. Causes of this decline are widespread habitat loss throughout the region, a loss of prey species and hunting. No Komodo dragons have been seen on the island of Padar since the 1970s, the result of widespread poaching of the deer that constitute their chief prey source.
Komodo and surrounding islands lie within the Komodo National Park. Law has protected these dragons since the 1930s. They are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and international trade is prohibited by their listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). An important tourist trade has sprung-up around these spectacular creatures, bringing over 18,000 visitors to the area each year; it is hoped that this economic incentive will help to safeguard the future of these awesome dragons.
Komodo National Park
Komodo National Park is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park’s biological importance.
Komodo National Park includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of 1817km (proposed extensions would bring the total surface area up to 2,321km2). As well as being home to the Komodo dragon, the Park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. Moreover, the Park includes one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays. These habitats harbor more than 1,000 species of fish, some 385 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong, sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles also make Komodo National Park their home. Divers also claim that Komodo waters are one of the best diving sites in the world
New 7 Wonders. Why Vote?
Komodo National Park is currently voted as one of the finalists for the New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign held by the New 7 Wonders Foundation. It’s all because of the support that have been given to Komodo National Park. But, it hasn’t over yet.
I think almost of us agree that to save nature, we have to appreciate it first. Many wanton destructions against Mother Earth were caused by our own ignorance. Komodo National Park does not only shelter the endangered komodos but also home to 385 underwater species of beautiful corals, mangrove forests, and seaweeds as a home for thousands of fish species, 70 types of sponges, 10 types of dolphins, 6 types of whales, green turtles and various types of sharks and stingrays. Komodo Island is also one of the best diving sites in the world.
Imagine it. If we can bring many more people to this area, it would give an economic incentive that will help to safeguard the future of these awesome dragons and other species around. So, let’s working on it together. We ask for your continuing support to make Komodo National Park become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature by voting here. Or enter this URL in your browser: http://www.new7wonders.com/community/en/new7wonders/new7wonders_of_nature/voting