Monday, December 27, 2010

Rinca Island

Our next stop after Bali was the island of Flores.  Flores is not only a jumping off point for some really amazing scuba diving, it is also close enough for a visit to Rinca, one of the islands where Komodo Dragons live.  The Komodo Dragon is the world's largest lizard.  A full grown lizard can be between 6.6 to 10 feet long, weighing over 150 pounds.  They are carnivores, eating mostly carrion.  They will hunt and kill, if necessary and are capable of taking down a water buffalo, or >ulp< a human being.  Seeing these big lizards was something I was really excited to do, so one day, after a day of diving, we stopped at Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons ourselves.
A large female dragon we saw while walking with our guide.
You have to pay a fee to visit the Komodo Dragons on Rinca, and you will not be allowed to go without a guide.  This is probably due to the fact that the dragons are not fenced in, but wandering around free.  Interestingly enough, most of the dragons we saw were resting from the heat of the day underneath the building housing the kitchen.  Apparently, they are drawn not only to the shade, but also by the smell of food.  We were told that the park rangers do not feed these lazy-looking lizards.  Our guide had a tall walking stick with two prongs at one end, but no other weapon or club.  He jokingly assured us that because he spoke English, we were safe from an attack by a hungry lizard.  Nevertheless, there was something disconcerting about walking so close to such large carnivores.
Komodo Dragons don't have a very good sense of hearing.  Mostly, they rely on their tongues to detect stimuli.  Their mating season begins in May, and usually eggs are laid in September.  During the rainy season, from September through April, the eggs are incubated by the female.  The young lizards hatch in April.  Because the adult lizards are cannibalistic, the young Komodo dragons live in trees for the first few years of their lives.  They can live for fifty years.  The lizards actually seemed almost bored by our presence, even though our group was followed by a larger group of school children, laughing and chattering nervously.  Maybe it was just the heat that made them seem so lethargic.  
Komodo Dragon Poo.
Yes, that really is a photo of Dragon poo.  I took it to show you how much it looks like bone.  The Komodo Dragon swallows its food whole, bones included.   
What are you looking at?
We did see one large female Komodo out in the jungle by herself.  I managed to get a number of good photos of her, including these two photos, when she decided to become our guide for a while.

Our two guides.
I took maybe a few too many photos of these amazing creatures.  If you want to see more photos, you can leave a comment and ask.
And so ends another day in our exploration of Indonesia.

Forgive my lack of Christmas cheer.  M was not home for Christmas, and I found that as the holiday grew closer, my mood became bleak.  I am happy to say that I have recovered, and I hear rumors that he may even make it home in time for the New Year.  I spent most of the holiday holed up in the studio, so new paintings are well on their way to completion.  I hope to share some of them with you by the end of the week.


ArtPropelled said...

Oh wonder your mood became bleak without M. The dragons are amazing! There is a shop here with magnificent wood carvings of Komodo Dragons. I'm sure you saw a lot of these carvings in Indonesia.

julie Haymaker thompson said...

Oh Karine, being apart is not fun But a least when you are together you are having a super time in wonderful places .Thanks for the pictures of so much Green

Patricia said...

So sorry the holiday was not cheerful for you, but it sounds like you have something to look forward to! Your photos are amazing. It'll be interesting to see how this experience shows up in your artwork in the coming year.

Cynthia Schelzig said...

omg now that is a critter that scares me:) They would probably dine on housecats for lunch!!! Yikes!!!
What an adventure you had!!
Can´t wait to see your latest artwork!