What do you do when you see a lizard climbing a wall in your house? Do you shriek and call for help or act brave and study them? Now imagine an island that is home to the largest lizards in the world. Would you like to go there and see these lizards in action?
Reaching 10 feet in length and weighing more than 150 kg, Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin and long tails. They have a venomous bite and can be dangerous.
Where do they live?
Komodo dragons live on only five islands in south-eastern Indonesia: Indonesia’s four islands within Komodo National Park (Komodo, Rinca, Gili Montang, Gili Dasami), and the island of Flores. The islands are volcanic in origin, rugged and hilly, and covered with both forest and savanna grassland. Among large predators, Komodo dragons probably have the smallest home area.
Now if your answer to the earlier question was yes, then you may not get a chance to see them in Komodo island. The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry announced that it had recently caught a group of smugglers that were planning to sell 41 Komodo Dragons. The lizards were being sold for about $35,000 (almost Rs. 25,00,000) each. As a result, the Indonesian Government plans to shut Komodo island to tourists in January 2020 for conservation purpose. The Komodo island, being home to about 1800 Komodo dragons is a major tourist destination.
What will happen on the island during the closure?
There are only about 6000 Komodo dragons in the world today. They are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of threatened animals. During the closure, conservationists will plant native vegetation and help restock the dragon’s food supply, thereby increasing their population. But it will be possible to see the lizards in other parts of the Komodo National Park, such as Rinca and Gili Motong islands.
Written by: Chandni Shah. Chandni is a picture book collector, an educator and founder of Simplifly, a learning venture for children.