The Komodo dragon is a vulnerable species of lizard found in Indonesia. The Komodo dragon is also referred to as the Komodo monitor. Fossil evidence indicates that the Komodo dragon evolved from a species of lizard on Australia. Professor Tim Flannery proposed that the Komodo dragon vanished from Australia around the same time as humans arrived on the continent. The Komodo dragon got its name from Douglas Burden who explored the Indonesian island of Komodo in 1926. Komodo dragons are voracious eaters and have been known to eat close to 80% of their body weight at a go. Komodo dragons are only naturally found in Indonesia.
Island Homes of the Komodo Dragon
The island of Komodo, where the Komodo dragons got their name from, occupies an area of about 150 square miles. The island is particularly well-known for its beautiful diving spots. The 2,000 inhabitants share the island with an estimated 1,700 Komodo dragons, a number that is slowly increasing due to conservation efforts. The island is part of the Komodo national park established mainly with the intention of protecting the Komodo dragon. Water buffaloes, a natural prey of the Komodo dragon, also live on the island.
Rinca is a 76 square mile island that is part of the Komodo National Park. The island receives far fewer visitors than Komodo Island and therefore is a prime location for watching Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Wild pigs and buffaloes found on the island are the Komodo dragon's natural prey.
The 12 square mile volcanic island is home to about 100 Komodo dragons. Not only is the small island part of the Komodo National Park, but UNESCO also listed it as a world heritage site in 1991. The island has a smaller population of Komodo dragons than all the other islands.
The Komodo dragon is a native inhabitant of the Gili Dasami Island with about 100 individuals living on the island. Gili Dasami is part of the Komodo National Park as well as being a world heritage site.
The Flores Island is a 5230 square mile island located on the Eastern side of Indonesia. The island is outside the range of the Komodo National Park and instead has four nature reserves situated on the North and West of the island. The parks are the primary centres of conservation efforts for the Komodo dragon on the island. The Flores Island has the distinction of being the most easterly point of the Komodo dragon's range.
Challenges Facing the Komodo Dragon
The Komodo dragon is classified as vulnerable due to the low numbers which were estimated at 3,014 individuals in 2015, a slight decrease from the 2014 estimates of 3,092. One of the most significant challenges facing the Komodo dragon is hunting by humans. Big game hunters kill Komodo dragons for sport. Human settlements also poses a threat to the Komodo dragons as they lose their natural habitats. Several conservation initiatives have been put in place as the Indonesian government seeks to protect its national animal.