Dragon of Komodo
Dragon of Komodo, or Ora, the largest living lizard. It is named after Komodo, one of several small Indonesian islands on which it is found. This rough-skinned lizard has a long tail and dull, gray-brown to black scales. It grows to about 10 feet (3 m) in length and may weigh as much as 300 pounds (136 kg). Despite its bulk, the dragon of Komodo is agile enough to capture wild pigs and deer. It has been known to attack humans. Indonesians consider its eggs a delicacy. Because of destruction of its habitat, the dragon of Komodo is an endangered species.
Scientists think that the Komodo dragons’ environment may be one reason the animals have become so large. Komodo dragons live on only a few Indonesian islands, where the Komodos are the largest meat-eating animals. So, a living Komodo dragon seldom becomes supper for another animal. And it does not have to compete very much for its own supper.
The Komodo dragon mainly eats dead animals, but it also hunts, kills, and eats large prey. It has been known to eat deer, wild pigs, goats, and water buffaloes. Adults will sometimes eat young Komodo dragons, too. Komodo dragons have even killed a small number of people.
The Komodo dragon has its own national park. Komodo National Park is located on the islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Padar and many other smaller islands. These islands are part of the country of Indonesia in Southeast Asia. When the park was created in 1980, it was meant to protect just the Komodo dragon. But now the park protects all the plant and animal life in the region, both on land and in water.
The Komodo dragon is a rare species. It could become extinct if not protected. There are 5,000 to 6,000 of these lizards left in the wild. They can be exported to other countries only with the permission of Indonesia’s president, and then only as a gift to another nation.
The dragon of Komodo is Varanus komodoensis of the monitor family, Varanidae.