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Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Komodo Islandis a part of theLesser Sundachain and lying between the neighbouring islands ofSumbawato the west andFloresto the east. Komodo is one of the many island, which make the Republic of indonesia.The inhabitants of this barren volcanic land are descendants of former convicts who were exiled to the island and who have mixed themselves with the Bugis from nearby Sulawesi. However the island is mostfamous not for its heritage of convicts, but for the unique fauna which inhabit it. TheKomodo dragon(in the picture below), the world’s largest living lizard, takes its name for the island. A type of monitor lizard, the dragon inhabits Komodo and some of the smaller surrounding islands, attracting thousands of tourists every year.
The lizards are active during the morning and late afternoon, but burrow into dry steam beds during the heat of the day to keep cool. Guided tours take visitors to see the lizards and this is good bet if you want to guarantee spotting one. They can grow up to 3 m in length, and despite their short legs, they can run as fast as a dog. Visitors are advised not to wear red and to keep an eye out for their footprints while visiting the island, as they can bite. They can also swim form island to island, so even the sea is not a safe place.
Komodo dragons were only discovered by Western scientists in 1910 when a Dutch officer,Van Steyan van Hensbroek, heard rumours of giant crocodiles and went to investigate. Today their range has contracted due to human activities, and they were listed as vulnerable by theWorld Conservation Union.
TheKomodo National Parkwas set up in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, and the area is also now on theUNESCO World Heritagelist. The national park features three large islands ofKomodo,RincaandPadar, as well as numerous smaller one. Later it was dedicated to protected other species as the three islands have a high marine biodiversity, inckuding whale sharks, ocean sunfish, manta rays, eagle rays, pygmy seahorses, false pipefish, clown frogfish, nudibranchs, blue-ringed octopus, sponges, tunicates, and coral. The coral reefs, seamounts, seagrass beds and mangroves make the island a popular place for diving.
When to go:April to October.Population:2,000.How to get there:By air to Labuanbajo from Bali, then by boat.You should know:All visitors to the Komodo National Park have to pay a contribution to protect the wildlife and support the local communities.