Image credit: Charlie Marchant
Home of real life dinosaurs—or dragons to be exact, Komodo National Park is nestled between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores in the center of Indonesia. The park’s main purpose was initially to protect the unique Komodo Dragons and its habitat but as the years pass, the goal of the park was expanded to protecting its biodiversity, terrestrial and marine.
There are a number of ways to get to Komodo National Park, but you will still end up taking a three-hour ferry to the dragon inhabited island. Since the island is surrounded by Komodo Dragons, it is advised you trek the island with a park ranger, which will cost about 250,000 Rupiah. The park rangers will take you along the dirt path lined with bushes and towering trees. The dragon-like lizard can grow up to 10-feet long and is able to take down a deer or even an adult water buffalo, hence there’s a need to be extra careful and alert when trekking the island.
The best times to visit the park is during the middle of the year during its dry season when it is not too hot and little to no rain is expected. During the month of June, it is the mating season for the dragons, providing you with the opportunity to spot both male and female Komodo dragons out in the open.
Despite the island being named after the Komodo dragon, Komodo National Park serves as refuge to many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, the Timor deer and many other animals. Moreover, the park is also one of the richest marine ecosystems which includes coral reefs, mangroves and semi-enclosed bays. Komodo National Park is also home to hundreds to sea creatures such as reef-building corals, Dugongs, manta-rays and dolphins.
The rich diversity of the terrestrial and marine ecosystem is protected under the declaration of the World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Despite this, the biodiversity of the island continues to degrade as there is an increase of pressure in forest cover and water resources. Efforts to save the park and its residents are continuous and environmental activists work hard to keep these dinosaurs—dragons, live another million or so years.