Location: The Komodo islands are located
between Sumbawa and Flores in the Lesser Sunda island chain.
Komodo dragons might be amongst the most impressive
carnivorous animals in the world but they are also extremely endangered.
Fewer than 3,000 exist in the wild on just four islands in a very
localised area in Indonesia. A single ecological catastrophe could
wipe them out in the wild. Captive breeding programs are underway
world wide to ensure the survival of the dragons but scientists
are having problems achieving the correct sex ratios in captive
populations. Dr Claudio Ciofi is conducting research into the life-history
of hatchling dragons, including determining the ratio of males to
females in newly hatched clutches by DNA analysis since dragons
of both sexes look rather similar. Mark joins Claudio at his nest
sites on Rinca and Komodo as he awaits this years hatch, which
Mark then travels to the neighbouring island of
Padar with Dr Putra Sastrawan. Deer hunters drove dragons off Padar
some years ago but Putra has a dream to re-populate the island with
dragons again. Once again it will be necessary to understand the
natural ratios of males to females in wild populations of Komodo
dragons. Apart from dragons the Komodo Island group has several
other interesting and dangerous reptile species.
A large Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)
is a formidable predator, armed with a powerful tail, long claws
and a mouth containing a cocktail of lethally virulent bacteria.
||Green sea turtle
||Flat-tailed house gecko
||Common house gecko
||Komodo striped snake-eyed
||Komodo snake-eyed skink
||Komodo striped skink
||COBRAS & THEIR
||VIPERS & PITVIPERS
||Sunda Island pitviper
Location: The Komodo dragon is today found on Komodo, Rinca, Gili
Motang and western Flores. They were driven off Padar by deer-hunters.
Yale herpetologist Claudio Ciofi photographs an adult dragon.