1. The Issue
The Komodo National Park in Eastern Indonesia is comprised of three small islands containing hundreds of unique and endemic species of flora and fauna, including the world famous Komodo Dragons, the largest land-dwelling reptiles in the world. This unique ecosystem is extremely vulnerable to degradation from outside influences such as tourists visiting the park, or poachers. The island is a closed ecosystem, populated with species that have evolved together over millions of years, protected by their isolation from many types of predators. The introduction of new species, people or diseases can therefore have an immediate and very negative impact on the ecosystem Tourism is a booming industry in Southeast Asia and is promoted heavily by the Indonesian government, which is also responsible for the park planning and maintenance. This case study examines the many impacts of tourism on the flora and fauna of Komodo National Park.
This section describes the issues in several parts:
Indonesia's Komodo National Park Indonesia's is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and it is also the third largest Asian country with a population of almost 200 million. Conservation International ranks it as the second most diverse country, after Brazil. Indonesia has over 500 mammal species 35 primate species, 270 amphibians and 477 endemic species of palms. Indonesia also has more wildlife reserves than any other Southeast Asian country. (Hitchcock, p. 303) Indonesia also has over 200 species of animals listed on the IUCN list of endangered or threatened species. The Komodo National Park in the Eastern province of Nusa Tenggara Timur is covered with monsoon forests and open savannahs. The park encompasses 340 square kilometers (130 square miles) and is generally hilly terrain. The park is situated in a transitional ecological zone between Australia and asia and is populated with wildlife from both continents (Hitchcock, p. 306). The dry season is from May-October and the islands are sparsely populated with people, mostly due to the scarcity of water on the islands. The three islands, Komodo, Padan and Rinca have an amazing level of biodiversity resulting in part from the rich seas surrounding the islands. There are macaque monkeys, cockatoos. green pit vipers, sea eagles, giant turtles and crocodiles, along with the famous Varanus komodoensis, the Komodo Dragon. Many of these animals live near the coastline, feeding on marine life.
There are approximately 2,000 people on the islands, mostly along the shorelines. They are mostly engaged in fishing and tourism industries. The economy of the islands is heavily dependent on the natural ecology, both directly and indirectly. The economy consists of cultivation and animal husbandry, deer hunting, fishing and collecting woodland products. Turtles, shrimp, squid and dolphins are all hunted by local fishermen. Some villagers also exploit the ecology indirectly through employment in the ecotourism industry. The Komodo Dragon has never really been hunted commercially because its skin is of little commercial value and it is also not used for food.
Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area. The Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTP) provinces. It includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands together totaling 603 km2 of land. The total size of Komodo National Park is presently 1,817 km2. Proposed extensions of 25 km2 of land (Banta Island) and 479 km2 of marine waters would bring the total surface area up to 2,321 km2.
Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in . The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1911 by J.K.H. Van Steyn. Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.
The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups. The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendents of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.
Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute.
There are presently almost 4,000 inhabitants living within the park spread out over four settlements (Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, and Papagaran). All villages existed prior to 1980 before the area was declared a national park. In 1928 there were only 30 people living in Komodo Village, and approximately 250 people on Rinca Island in 1930. The population increased rapidly, and by 1999, there were 281 families numbering 1,169 people on Komodo, meaning that the local population had increased exponentially. Komodo Village has had the highest population increase of the villages within the Park, mostly due to migration by people from Sape, Manggarai, Madura, and South Sulawesi. The number of buildings in Kampung Komodo has increased rapidly from 30 houses in 1958, to 194 houses in 1994, and 270 houses in 2000. Papagaran village is similar in size, with 258 families totaling 1,078 people. As of 1999, Rinca’s population was 835, and Kerora's population was 185 people. The total population currently living in the Park is 3,267 people, while 16,816 people live in the area immediately surrounding the Park.
The average level of education in the villages of Komodo National Park is grade four of elementary school. There is an elementary school located in each of the villages, but new students are not recruited each year. On average, each village has four classes and four teachers. Most of the children from the small islands in the Kecamatan Komodo (Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, Papagaran, Mesa) do not finish elementary school. Less than 10% of those which do graduate from elementary school will continue to high school since the major economic opportunity (fishing) does not require further education. Children must be sent to Labuan Bajo to attend high school, but this is rarely done in fishermen’s families.
Most of the villages located in and around the Park have few fresh water facilities available, if any, particularly during the dry season. Water quality declines during this time period and many people become ill. Malaria and diarrhea are rampant in the area. On Mesa island, with a population of around 1,500 people, there is no fresh water available. Fresh water is brought by boat in jerrycans from Labuan Bajo. Each family needs an average of Rp 100,000.- per month to buy fresh water (2000). Almost every village has a local medical facility with staff, and at least a paramedic. The quality of medical care facilities is low.
SOCIO-CULTURAL AND ANTHROPOLOGIC CONDITIONS :
Traditional Customs: Traditional communities in Komodo, Flores and Sumbawa have been subjected to outside influences and the influence of traditional customs is dwindling. Television, radio, and increased mobility have all played a part in accelerating the rate of change. There has been a steady influx of migrants into the area. At the moment nearly all villages consist of more than one ethnic group.
Religion: The majority of fishermen living in the villages in the vicinity of the Park are Muslims. Hajis have a strong influence in the dynamics of community development. Fishermen hailing from South Sulawesi (Bajau, Bugis) and Bima are mostly Moslems. The community from Manggarai are mostly Christians.
Anthropology and Language: There are several cultural sites within the Park, particularly on Komodo Island. These sites are not well documented, however, and there are many questions concerning the history of human inhabitance on the island. Outside the Park, in Warloka village on Flores, there is a Chinese trading post remnant of some interest. Archeological finds from this site have been looted in the recent past. Most communities in and around the Park can speak Bahasa Indonesia. Bajo language is the language used for daily communication in most communities.
Topography: The topography is varied, with slopes from 0 – 80%. There is little flat ground, and that is generally located near the beach. The altitude varies from sea level to 735 m above sea level. The highest peak is Gunung Satalibo on Komodo Island.
Geology: The islands in Komodo National Park are volcanic in origin. The area is at the juncture of two continental plates: Sahul and Sunda. The friction of these two plates has led to large volcanic eruptions and caused the up-thrusting of coral reefs. Although there are no active volcanoes in the park, tremors from Gili Banta (last eruption 1957) and Gunung Sangeang Api (last eruption 1996) are common. West Komodo probably formed during the Jurasic era approximately 130 million years ago. East Komodo, Rinca, and Padar probably formed approximately 49 million years ago during the Eocene era.
Climate: Komodo National Park has little or no rainfall for approximately 8 months of the year, and is strongly impacted by monsoonal rains. High humidity levels year round are only found in the quasi-cloud forests on mountain tops and ridges. Temperatures generally range from 170C to 340C, with an average humidity level of 36%. From November through March the wind is from the west and causes large waves that hit the entire length of Komodo island’s west beach. From April through October the wind is dry and large waves hit the south beaches of Rinca and Komodo islands.
The terrestrial ecosystems are strongly affected by the climate: a lengthy dry season with high temperatures and low rainfall, and seasonal monsoon rains. The Park is situated in a transition zone between Australian and Asian flora and fauna. Terrestrial ecosystems include open grass-woodland savanna, tropical deciduous (monsoon) forest, and quasi cloud forest.
Due to the dry climate, terrestrial plant species richness is relatively low. The majority of terrestrial species are xerophytic and have specific adaptations to help them obtain and retain water. Past fires have selected for species that are fire-adapted, such as some grass species and shrubs. Terrestrial plants found in Komodo National Park include grasses, shrubs, orchids, and trees. Important food tree species for the local fauna include Jatropha curkas, Zizyphus sp., Opuntia sp., Tamarindus indicus, Borassus flabellifer, Sterculia foetida, Ficus sp., Cicus sp., ‘Kedongdong hutan’ (Saruga floribunda), and ‘Kesambi’ (Schleichera oleosa).
The terrestrial fauna is of rather poor diversity in comparison to the marine fauna. The number of terrestrial animal species found in the Park is not high, but the area is important from a conservation perspective as some species are endemic.. Many of the mammals are Asiatic in origin (e.g., deer, pig, macaques, civet). Several of the reptiles and birds are Australian in origin. These include the orange-footed scrubfowl, the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo and the nosy friarbird.
Reptiles: The most famous of Komodo National Park's reptiles is the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis). It is among the world's largest reptiles and can reach 3 meters or more in length and weigh over 70kg. To find out more about this fascinating creature click here.
Other than the Komodo Dragon twelve terrestrial snake species are found on the island. including the cobra (Naja naja sputatrix), Russel’s pit viper (Vipera russeli), and the green tree vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris). Lizards include 9 skink species (Scinidae), geckos (Gekkonidae), limbless lizards (Dibamidae), and, of course, the monitor lizards (Varanidae). Frogs include the Asian Bullfrog (Kaloula baleata), Oreophyne jeffersoniana and Oreophyne darewskyi. They are typically found at higher, moister altitudes.
Mammals: Mammals include the Timor deer (Cervus timorensis), the main prey of the Komodo dragon, horses (Equus sp.), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar (Sus scrofa vittatus), long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus lehmanni), the endemic Rinca rat (Rattus rintjanus), and fruit bats. One can also find goats, dogs and domestic cats.
Birds: One of the main bird species is the orange-footed scrub fowl (Megapodius reinwardti), a ground dwelling bird. In areas of savanna, 27 species were observed. Geopelia striata and Streptopelia chinensis were the most common species. In mixed deciduous habitat, 28 bird species were observed, and Philemon buceroides, Ducula aenea, and Zosterops chloris were the most common.
The marine area constitutes 67% of the Park. The open waters in the Park are between 100 and 200 m deep. The straits between Rinca and Flores and between Padar and Rinca, are relatively shallow (30 to 70 m deep), with strong tidal currents. The combination of strong currents, coral reefs and islets make navigation around the islands in Komodo National Park difficult and dangerous. Sheltered deep anchorage is available at the bay of Loh Liang on Komodo’s east coast, the South East coast of Padar, and the bays of Loh Kima and Loh Dasami on Rinca.
In the North of the Park water temperature ranges between 25 – 29°C. In the middle, the temperature ranges between 24 and 28°C. The temperatures are lowest in the South, ranging from 22 – 28°C. Water salinity is about 34 ppt and the water is quite clear, although the waters closer to the islands are relatively more turbid.
Indonesia is the only equatorial region in the world where there is an exchange of marine flora and fauna between the Indian and Pacific oceans. Passages in Nusa Tenggara (formerly the Lesser Sunda Islands) between the Sunda and Sahul shelves allow movement between the Pacific and Indian oceans. The three main ecosystems in Komodo National Park are seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove forests. The Park is probably a regular cetacean migration route.
The three major coastal marine plants are algae, seagrasses and mangrove trees. Algae are primitive plants, which do not have true roots, leaves or stems. An important reef-building algae is the red coralline algae, which actually secretes a hard limestone skeleton that can encrust and cement dead coral together. Seagrasses are modern plants that produce flowers, fruits and seeds for reproduction. As their name suggests, they generally look like large blades of grass growing underwater in sand near the shore. Thallasia sp. and Zastera spp. are the common species found in the Park. Mangroves trees can live in salty soil or water, and are found throughout the Park. An assessment of mangrove resources identified at least 19 species of true mangroves and several more species of mangrove associates within the Park's borders.
Komodo National Park includes one of the world's richest marine environments. It consists of forams, cnidaria (includes over 260 species of reef building coral), sponges (70 species), ascidians, marine worms, mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, cartilaginous and bony fishes (over 1,000 species), marine reptiles, and marine mammals (dolphins, whales, and dugongs). Some notable species with high commercial value include sea cucumbers (Holothuria), Napoleon wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus), and groupers
Threats to Biodiversity
There are numerous threats to the biodiversity of Komodo National Park including human population pressure, tourism, the introduction of exotic species and poaching. However, the most potent threat lies in the destructive fishing practices that take place in and around the Park. These practices destroy the coastal environment at great economic costs in terms of coastal protection, fisheries and tourism.
To learn more about destructive fishing practices and the trade that supports them please click on one of the following topics.
Fish bombs are mostly made with artificial (chemical) fertilizers such as ammonium- and potassium nitrate (NH4NO3; KNO3), which is mixed with kerosene in a bottle. Blast fishers hunt specifically for schooling reef fish, so that only a few bombs will assure a relatively large catch. After the charge explodes, diving fishers enter the water to collect the fish, which have been killed or stunned by the shock-wave from the explosion. The size of the coral area destroyed by a single blast is dependent upon the size of the bomb and the position of the explosion relative to the coral reef. A beer bottle bomb will shatter an area of stony corals approximately 5 m in diameter.
Many blast fishing operations use "hookah" compressors to collect their catch from the reef. Blast fishing is considered one of the most destructive anthropogenic threats to coral reef ecosystems. It has been estimated that the economic costs of this practice are US$100,000 per km2 on average in terms of coastal protection, fisheries and tourism. Moreover, there has been a loss of around 85,000km2 of coral reefs creating a total loss of US$8.5 billion.
Cyanide solutions are used extensively to catch live reef fish for consumption and ornamental purposes. The concentrations of dissolved poison are not meant to kill but only to tranquilize the target fish, which facilitates their capture. The live food-fish trade concentrates on the catch of groupers and Napoleon wrasse. The aquarium fish trade concentrates on a much wider variety of species of colorful reef fishes. Live spiny lobsters, are also caught with cyanide. Cyanide fishing is done by divers, using "hookah" compressors and hoses to supply air. A diver on a "hookah" compressor-hose descends 10-40 meters until he spots a target fish. He chases the fish into a crevice in the reef and then squirts cyanide from a plastic bottle into the hole. As the fish begins to weaken, the diver breaks away the coral around the hole, reaches in, grabs the fish, and slowly escorts it to the surface. The cyanide fishery for aquarium fish destroys large areas of corals, which are broken down after an area has been sprayed with cyanide and the target fishes have fled in between the corals. The use of hookah compressors is a key factor in cyanide fishing practices.
The fishery for abalone (mata tuju) has destroyed large areas of coral reefs in recent years. Many fishermen are digging through the reefs, using compressors and steel bar tools (the method is called 'meting'), in search of abalone and other marine invertebrates. The fishermen break down and turn over the corals (which are also trampled by them in the process) and leave behind them fields of near 100% dead coral rubble. Collecting invertebrates from reef flats is a traditional activity, which used to be focused on sea cucumber and carried out during very low tides. The high price for abalone and the availability of dive gear and 'hookah' compressors changed this into a more serious activity in the early nineties and initiated an increase in the total applied effort.
The use of bamboo mesh traps) is widespread in Indonesian reef fisheries. The process of setting and retrieving the trap is responsible for extensive destruction on the reef. To hide the traps in the reef, divers break off live coral to cover them. Traps set by simply lowering the trap from boat side via a buoyed rope are responsible for even more serious reef damage. These traps are often heavily weighted, and can destroy entire stands of corals during their installation.
The main yield category from the Park is fish (almost 95%). These fish are mostly caught by gillnets, and by trolling and bottom hook and lines. Demersal trolling lines or 'kedo kedo' are wiping out the coral trout stocks. Bottom hook and lines catch all predators and bottom longlines are decimating the sharks and large groupers. Gillnets kill indiscriminately, including turtles, dugong, cetaceans, and all species of reef fish. The fish stocks of the Park are seriously threatened by the use of gillnets and bottom longlines.
The target fish species in the live reef fish trade commonly aggregate at specific sites to spawn. Groupers and Napoleon wrasse migrate many miles each season to these spawning sites. Spawning aggregation sites are extremely vulnerable since experienced fishers are skilled in locating them. Wiping out the fish on one aggregation site equals the elimination of top predators from several square miles of reef. Grouper and Napoleon wrasse spawning aggregation sites
Mangroves, seagrass, lontar palms, and other species have been over harvested in the past. Seagrass is collected for use as a food source and as an ingredient for cosmetics. There is a large external market for these products. Mangrove tress are used for fire wood. The palm trees are used to make furniture and buildings locally. The decrease in the seagrass population may lead to increased coral mortality and decreases in species dependent upon them for shelter and food.
The live reef fish trade has rapidly expanded from its epicenter in Hong Kong throughout South East Asia and beyond during the 1990s, and the demand for live fish is projected to grow even more in the future. By supplying the market with well over 50% of this volume, Indonesia is the largest supplier of wild-caught live fish food fish. Being an export oriented activity, the live reef fishery intensified because of the Indonesian monetary crisis. The present exploitation rate is much higher than can be sustained by Indonesia's coral reefs.
The main target fish species of the Hong Kong-based live reef fish trade are groupers and Napoleon wrasse, but at least 30 other species are also regularly found as live food fish at the Hong Kong market. Most of these fish end up in aquariums of expensive restaurants, where they are sold to consumers for up to hundreds of dollars (US$) per serving.
The live reef fish trade is the source of three of the major threats to marine biodiversity in Komodo National Park. Namely, cyanide fishing, over fishing of adults and depletion of juveniles. As mentioned before, cyanide fishing causes chemical damage to coral reefs through the use of cyanide solutions to stun and capture target fish species. Moreover, diving fisherman cause physical damage when they break away corals around the hiding places of stunned target fish.
High exploitation rates of wild populations of market-ready fish (adults and sub-adults) render it impossible for the wild stocks to recover. The most important target fish species are extremely vulnerable to over-fishing, because these species tend to aggregate for spawning at certain sites during certain seasons. Once the commercial fishery locates a spawning aggregation site, the fishery can extract a significant portion of the adult stock with little effort.
High exploitation rates of wild populations of fingerlings of target fish is also a large problem. the fingerlings are used to supply the developing grow-out fish culture industry. Wild-caught fingerlings are kept in fish cages until they reach marketable size.
How to Get There
While most visitors enter Komodo National Park (KNP) through the gateway cities of Labuan Bajo in the west of Flores or Bima in eastern Sumbawa, the departure point for your trip is actually Denpasar, Bali.
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are connected to Denpasar, Bali by overland buses.
By Sea (ferry):
Travel time: approximately 36 hours
The gateway cities of Labuan Bajo and Bima are also connected to Denpasar, Bali by inter-island ferry.
Contact the Indonesia Sea Transportation Company (PELNI) at Jalan Raya Kuta No. 299, Tuban - Bali (Tel: 0361 - 763 963) to reserve a seat on the KM. Tilong Kabila, which departs Benoa Port, Bali bound for Bima and Labuan Bajo
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Saturdays: 09.00-20.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 - Rp. 435,000.00
Fortnightly (every two weeks) on Thursdays: 08.00-11.00 (next day).
One-way ticket (as of 10/6/06) from Rp. 143,000.00 - Rp. 435,000.00
Note: the ferry schedule and ticket prices may change with or without prior notice
By Sea (live-aboard):
Komodo National Park is serviced by a wide range of live-aboard boats, with return packages to Komodo National Park from a variety of departure points, including Bali, Lombok, Bima and Labuan Bajo
Prices (as of 10/6/06) are ranging from USD 230.00 - USD 295.00 / person / night.
From Gateway Cities to Komodo National Park (KNP)
You can easily organize a shared boat charter by local boat from either ports at Labuan Bajo or Bima (Sape) to the two major points of access in the Park: Loh Liang (on Komodo Island) or Loh Buaya (on Rinca Island)
Charter price (as of 10/6/06) - excluding meals, KNP entrance fee etc:
Labuan Bajo: KNP: Rp. 750,000 - 1,500,000 per boat / day
Bima (Sape): KNP: Rp. 1,500.000 - 2,000.000 per boat / day
Note: the charter prices may change with or without prior notice
Aside from the native turtles, deer, monkeys and other animals on the island, there are the Komodo Dragons, which are a member of the Monitor lizard family. The Dragons can grow to be quite large, typically about 2 meters long and weighing 40-70 kilograms. They are listed on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) list of endangered or threatened species. The largest verified Dragon was 3.13 meters long (almost 9 feet) and weighed 166 kilograms (about 320 pounds) (Scientific American, 1999). Dragons are found at all elevations on the islands. Recent estimates of the dragon population are that there are 3,500 spread out over the islands, most of them on Komodo island (Scientific American, 1999).
The management plan for the park was devised by the UNDP and FAO in 1978 with the aim of preserving the park for scientific purposes. The plan proposed that tourism be introduced to protect the reserve from harmful commercial exploitation, and to help the local economy. In terms of visitor services, no specific limit on the number of tourists per month or year was proposed but their impact was to be limited by requesting that they remain on marked trails, use hides for nature watching and be accompanied by guides. Recommendations included building an airstrip on the island to connect it with the Bali tourist trade (which was not done), and also limiting the number of visitors at one time (Hitchcock, p. 310). It is unclear if this signifies 40 visitors per day, per hour or per week. The Indonesian government's official tourism goal exceeds 1 million visitors per year for the country as a whole and there are an estimated 18,000 visitors annually to the Komodo Park (Scientific American, 1999) which is now a stop on the itinerary of cruise ships in the area. (Image courtesy of Scientific American web site, March 1999.)
The are many potential impacts resulting from tourism on a small isolated island. Tourism can cause pollution from boats, sewage and litter. Tourists can also change the habitat by disturbing plants and animals directly by disturbing feeding patterns, disrupting the breeding cycle, etc. Pollution from boats and tourists can impact the coral reefs near the shoreline, potentially limiting the food supply for many of the islands species. The ecosystem of an island is a uniquely fragile one where the native plants and animals have evolved together and developed an interdependent system. if one aspect of the system, such as a food source is removed or disrupted, the food chain begins to fail. This has happened on the island of Padan where the number of dragons on the island has dropped to almost zero because poachers have killed all the deer on the island. Deer are the major food source for Komodo dragons (Scientific American, 1999). The Impacts of tourism and policy choices
Can such a small island park sustain the 18,000 visitors a year without compromising the ecosystem's sustainability? Such as high ratio of tourists to local people (at least a five to one ratio) and native wildlife inevitably causes disruption of the indigenous culture and particularly the life cycle of the wildlife. The behavior changes among the dragons has been well-documented. Park officials feed the animals at feeding stations at regularly scheduled times in a conscious effort to domesticate the lizards. This serves two purposes as it makes an attack by a lizard less likely because they are well-fed, and it also provides steady, reliable entertainment for tourists who come to the feeding stations to watch the dragons eat freshly killed deer. This unnatural behavior modification means that the lizards are dependent on humans for regular feedings and are unlikely to survive in a wild state as they would no longer have the same hunting skills after years of domestication. It is also unlikely that their diet is as varied or natural as it would be without the human interference. The dragons also do not exhibit any fear of humans, another behavioral adaptation which in the long-run could have serious repercussions.
As for the economic impact of tourism on the island, it seems that little if any tourism revenue gained by park fees remains in the area to maintain the park or support the local economy. The government is the only obvious benefactor to the park tourism, although some local people no doubt are dependent on tourism revenue through services they provide outside the park. From a sustainable development perspective, this particular example of ecotourism does little to assist the economic situation of the islanders who remain at a subsistance level, nor is it entirely beneficial for the dragons and other wildlife. While ecotourism is certainly preferable to other economic activities such as hunting or logging, there is still negative impact upon the wildlife because tourism is a form of commercial exploitation.
About Komodo :
Komodo, or the more called Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) is the world's largest lizard species that live on the island of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Gili Dasami in Nusa Tenggara. This lizard by the natives of Komodo island is also called by local names ora.
Including family members Varanidae lizards, and klad Toxicofera, dragons are the largest lizards in the world, with an average length of 2-3 m. Large size is associated with symptoms of island gigantism, the tendency for body meraksasanya certain animals that live on a small island linked to the absence of carnivorous mammals in the island where dragons live, and the rate of metabolism of small dragons. Because of her size, these lizards occupy the position of a top predator that dominate the ecosystems in which they live.
Komodo dragons are found by western researchers in 1910. He was a great and terrible reputation that makes them popular in zoos. Dragons in the wild habitat has been shrinking due to human activity and therefore incorporate dragons IUCN as a species vulnerable to extinction. This large lizard is now protected under Indonesian law and a national park, the Komodo National Park, established to protect them.
Anatomy and Morphology :
In the wild, adult Komodo dragon usually has a mass of about 70 kilograms, but the dragons kept in captivity often have a greater body weight. Wild specimens have the largest ever of 3:13 meters long and weighing about 166 kilograms, including the weight of undigested food in his stomach. Although listed as the largest lizard the Komodo dragon is still alive, but not the longest. This reputation is held by Papuan lizard (Varanus salvadorii). Komodo has the same tail length with his body, and around 60 sharp teeth are serrated along approximately 2.5 cm, which is often replaced. Komodo dragon saliva is often mixed with a little blood because her teeth almost completely covered by gingival tissue and the tissue was torn during the meal. This condition creates an ideal environment for the growth of deadly bacteria that live in their mouths. Komodo has a long tongue, yellow and forked. Komodo dragons males larger than females, with a skin color from dark gray to red brick, while the female is more colorful dragons green olives, and has a small piece of yellow on the throat. Young Komodo dragons more colorful, yellow, green and white on a black background.
Komodo does not have the sense of hearing, despite having the ear hole. This lizard is able to see as far as 300 m, but because the retina has only cone cells, these animals do not seem so good to see in the darkness of night. Komodo is able to distinguish colors, but not much able to distinguish objects that do not move. Komodo uses his tongue to detect taste and smell stimuli, like other reptiles, the vomeronasal sensory organs utilizing Jacobson, an ability that can help navigate in the dark. With the help of the wind and the habit of tilting his head to the right and to the left when walking, dragons can detect the presence of carrion as far as 4-9.5 kilometers. Dragons nostrils olfaction is not a good tool because they do not have the midriff. These animals have no sense of taste on the tongue, there are few nerve endings of taste in the back of the throat.
Komodo dragon scales, some of which are reinforced with bone, has a sensor that is connected to nerves that facilitate excitatory touch. Scales around the ears, lips, chin, and soles of the feet have three or more sensor stimulation.
Komodo dragons were once considered deaf when studies find that whispers, voices rising and shouting did not result in agitation (interference) in the wild dragons. This was refuted later when employees ZSL London Zoo, Joan Proctor trained lizards to eat out with his voice, even when he is not seen by the lizards.
Ecology, Behaviour and Lifestyle :
Komodo dragons are naturally found only in Indonesia, on the island of Komodo, Rinca and Flores and several other islands in Nusa Tenggara. Living in open dry grasslands, savannas and tropical forests at low altitude, this lizard loves hot and dry place. They are active during the day, although sometimes also active at night. Komodo is a solitary animal, gathered together only at meals and breed. These large reptiles can run fast up to 20 kilometers per hour at short distances; swim very well and can dive as deep as 4.5 meters; and clever climb trees using their powerful claws. To catch prey that are beyond its reach, the Komodo dragon may stand on its hind legs and uses its tail as a support. With increasing age, more dragons to use his claws as weapons, because of his large size made it difficult to climb trees.
For shelter, dragons dig holes 1-3 meters wide with the front legs and strong claws. Because of her size and habit of sleeping in a hole, the Komodo dragon can maintain body heat during the night and reduce the time sunbathing on the next morning. Komodo generally hunt in the afternoon to evening, but still take shelter during the hottest part of the day.These places hidden dragons are usually located in the dunes or hills with the sea breeze, is open from vegetation, and here and there Scattered dung inhabitants. This place is generally also a strategic location to ambush deer.
Eating Behavior :
Komodo dragons are carnivores. Although they eat mostly carrion, studies show that they also hunt live prey by sneaking followed by a sudden attack against the victim. When prey arrives near a hidden dragons, animals are immediately attacked him on the bottom side of the body or throat. Komodo can find their prey using a keen sense of smell, which can be found dead or dying animals at a distance of up to 9.5 kilometers.