Rinca National Park,
Rinca National Park
is one of the world’s true wonders, in my opinion. From its beautiful
corals to the mighty Komodo Dragons and surrounding mountains that ooze
adventure. As we approached Rinca the amazing landscape started to creep into
view, we could see the steep banks of sand stone and soft rolling grass land
that coated them.
We anchored in Lehok Ginggo offering
us complete protection from every angle and the water was so calm and cool
that it was almost like a giant lake. As soon as the anchor was down it was
all eyes on shore, to see if we could get a glimpse of the Dragons,
unfortunately we didn’t spot one but we saw lots a tracks in the sand,
so we knew they were around. We had a snorkel meantime, although the
visibility was not good due to the silty sand bottom. It rained in the
evening, so again the Dragons where unlikely to come out, but we felt that
the rain may work to our advantage, as it would cool the Dragons down so they
would defiantly have to come and warm up in the morning sun, also that hopefully
they’d be too cold to be aggressive.
Friday 17th September 2010 towards
Today is a big day where we go dragon
hunting! We left early to head to "one of the 10 best anchorages in the
World" as described by 101 Anchorages in Indonesia.
I have to say that we were not
disappointed our trip was very fast as more by luck than judgment we got the
tide right and were shooting along at 9+ knots with the engine on tickover as
we entered the pass!
Excellent anchorage looking at our
friend's Troubadour's photos I think we are anchored in the same spot as they
were this time last year! Lovely snorkelling then down came the rain! So no
Komodo dragons today.
After the rain, we had a good sunset
across to the island of Komodo
Ollie’s Blog Saturday 18th
So in the morning we put the dinghy down and we
went Dragon hunting! David suggested we work are way along the bay starting
from the far end round to where Kanaloa was anchored.
As we approached the first bay, the binoculars
where out and I was scanning the shore line for and sign of life, but they
are incredible well camouflaged and nearly everything on the beach and in the
grasses could be a Dragon. My gaze drifted to a dune just being touched by
the morning sun and there she was, our first Dragon! In a flap of excitement
we hurried to shore and tried to get a closer look, but didn’t realise
that they are a lot more timid than we imagined and on seeing us get onto the
beach she hurriedly went of into her den.
But this didn’t deter us hardened Dragon
hunters! We went over to the next bay but unfortunately no Dragons but there
was a chewed leg bone which was a little disconcerting, but we hunted on over
to the next bay.
As we approached David spotted what we thought was
a dragon, looking through the bins it looked like a log as it was so dark
against the shore, then as we drew nearer it was obvious that in front of us
was the scaly colossus of a male Komodo Dragon.
He was completely in plain sight, warming himself
on the beach and wasn’t worried in the slightest about three big pink
things coming towards him in a white floating thing.
Along the beach there was also a female Dragon not
far from him, but she was much more camera shy than he was, he posed for
several fantastic photos for a good 20 minutes, just staring at us looking very
unamused. It was so exhilarating, a real majestic creature (except when
plodding along the beach).
Behind this Dragons we also got a glimpse of a
Stag and Doe swiftly moving through the grass.
Poor thing, he was not sure who to keep an eye on,
them on one side or us on the other!
We then went back to the bay where Kanaloa was anchored
and went ashore to see if we could find some more wildlife. I went right into
the bush looking out for any tell tale signs that a Dragon had come through,
my heart in mouth the whole time, excepting any moment to have a Jurassic
park moment, where I moved a branch across and it was staring me right in the
face. I then saw a track that looked well beaten, but not by humans, I
followed it round the back of a bush and there was another Dragon digging its
den, I froze and gaped at it for a while all my body could do was let out the
slight whisper of, Bloody hell. I was suddenly over whelmed with excitement,
awe and of course fear, I decide to stay behind a log just to be on the safe
side and tried to get some good camera shots.
I heard the dinghy and went back to the beach trying
not to disturb her, then I got D&V and took them over to the same spot,
careful not to make too much noise through the dead leaves and twigs
Creeping close to the hole she was excavating,
totally unaware of our presence, we were able to get some more great camera
as the suddenly baked out of her hole, and took a
look around her and noticed us! It was a real adrenaline rush.
Then later on the evening we went to see if we could
catch a few more looks at the Dragons and possibly deer. When we got ashore I
spotted another dragon and followed it up the side of the mountain trying to
get a closer look. He was so hard to keep track of in the long grass (that I
now learn is riddled with deadly snakes) as every rock looked like a Dragon.
I lost him, but I caught some good pictures of Kanaloa in the bay.
We got a few more looks at some more dragons going
into their dens and decide to go back to the boat. Was a really amazing day
and we all went back feeling very lucky with are incredible Dragon
Ollie high on the
hill, avoiding all the Komodo dragons, spitting cobras, deadly grass snakes
and green pythons!
Saturday 18th September
Got up at daybreak as usual, cleaned
the anti-siphon for the raw water on the generator and then went Dragon
hunting. We were not disappointed found our first one on a hillock a couple
of bays away, but we were a bit too noisy approaching it and scared it off explored
a couple of other bays without any luck then returned to the first bay to
find him/her walking along the beach. This time we approached with care
paddling the last 100 metres or so, we were able to get quite close. Two
bays later on the way back to Kanaloa Ollie spotted a large "log"
on the beach another dragon we were able to get within about 15 yards of it
and sat for ages just looking at each other, it looked like a male with his
female further up the beach. To cap it all there were also deer on the
background including a large stag. We then returned to our own bay (the last
to get the sun) with signs of buffalo having been on the beach . Ollie set
off into the bush and discovered what we think was a female digging a nest to
lay its’ eggs.
As we approached it had most of its'
body in the hole it was digging. We obviously made a little too much noise
as it came out of the hole and stared at us while we were only 8 or 10 feet
away - it started flashing its' tongue at us and I was checking if I had my
brown trousers on; at that point we crept away to leave it to continue
digging its' nest. David Attenborough eat your heart out!
Notes: August/September is the later part of the annual nesing season, and
oddly enough, males outnumber females 3.4 to 1? At 7-8 years of age, dragons
start their reproducing with the female building numerous nests with all but
one being a decoy. The female lays 15-30 eggs all at once, then protects
them for 3 months never straying far from the next. Hatchlings then head for
higher ground in the trees:
This Ficus Banyan tree
is right next to the dragon’s nesting hole
The hatchling seek out insects and birds until
mature enough at 3 years to start roaming the ground for meat. Small
rodents, monkeys, birds, deer and water buffalo. Their infectious bite, full
of bacteria, eventually kills their prey through blood poisoning.
A full grown adult can live about 50 years.
There are 1,000 dragons on Rinca, a number down from 3,200 in 1990, putting
them on the endangered species list.