Thursday, January 5, 2012

Komodo: The Dragons

Our trip on the liveaboard boat we took an afternoon to take a short hike on the island of Rinca, one of the few islands that still has Komodo dragons roaming its hills.  We pulled up in our speedboat, hooked up with our two rangers (one in front, one in back, both carrying big Y-shaped sticks that they assured us were not magic, but, if necessary, were sufficient to pin the dragon's head in such a way that he would be annoyed and back away), and went on our way.
Our ranger, with his non-magical, Y-shaped stick. Notice that our guide is wearing sandals.  I wore my running shoes, tied tight. Just in case.   Also, does this photo remind anyone else of that website "Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things"... I guess this would be called "Komodo Ranger Pointing at Things"? 
 When SCUBA diving, you're never really guaranteed to see any particular fish or sea creature, but when you go to see the Komodo dragons, you're pretty much guaranteed to see at least a couple of dragons... mainly because there are always some hanging out by the kitchen that serves the locals and the park rangers.  In our case, there were about 10 of them hanging out in the kitchen area, lounging and waiting for a snack.  Instant gratification.  We saw one more on our hike, but he was napping in the bushes, and we could only see a small cross-section of his tail.
The perspective in this photo is a little wacky... they're big, but not that big.
Crazy forked tongue.
Pig pile under the kitchen!  Maybe the cook will throw us some scraps!

You'd better hope your shoe isn't untied, because I'm thinking about making a move.
Ben and Erin, not being eaten by dragons.
Let me tell you: These guys are huge.  And their claws are big.  I am somewhat happy that we didn't really encounter any in the more natural habitat.  I did not want to be near the business end of one of those things.

We did see some of the other inhabitants (and food sources for the dragons) of Rinca... namely water buffalo, smaller lizards, monkeys and some green junglefowl.  We also saw the dragon's nests (giant holes dug for laying eggs), which was pretty cool, as well as some dragon poop, which doesn't sound very interesting, but actually is: apparently the dragons don't chew and can't totally digest the calcium in the bones of the animals they eat, hence the white stuff.
Water buffalo... just biding his time before getting eaten by a dragon.
Ben, pissing off a water buffalo.
Komodo dragon poop.
Cool tree.
Dragon nests

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