The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, is the largest lizard endemic to five islands in southeast Indonesia. The islands of Komodo, Rinca, Nusa Kode and Gili Motang are part of Komodo National Park. On Flores, the fifth and largest island, three nature reserves, Wae Wuul, Wolo Tado and Riung, harbour extant Komodo dragon populations on the west and north coast, respectively. There is a vital need of island based conservation strategy on managing Komodo dragon population in their current distribution areas, Flores and adjacent islands within the boundary of Komodo National Park.
Varanids are predatory lizards that occupy a wide range of habitats and are distributed throughout southern Asia, Australia, and Africa (Pianka 1995). However, Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), the largest Varanid species have a restricted distribution and are endemic to eastern Indonesia.
This charismatic monitor lizard occurs from sea level to about 800 m in altitude, mainly in tropical, dry and moist deciduous monsoon forest (Auffenberg 1981). Currently, the distribution of Komodo dragons is restricted to five small islands in eastern Indonesia, with four island populations located within Komodo National Park (KNP) and several fragmented populations persisting on the large island of Flores.
The Komodo dragon (V. komodoensis) is protected by international conventions; it is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and is classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Resources as ‘vulnerable’ due to its demographic decline and limited distribution (Ciofi et al. 2002). This species is protected in Indonesia under Act no. 5, on Conservation of Biological Resources and Their Ecosystems,1990,; and Government regulation no. 7, on Protected Wild Flora and Fauna, 1998.
The Komodo dragon is the largest varanid species and the largest living lizard, with adult males reaching 3 m in length and weigh up to 87 kg. The closest specimens of other varanidae, the Papuan monitor V. salvadorii, which reached about 265 cm in length. Another large varanid species, occuring on the islands of Java, Bali and throughout Lesser Sunda region, V. salvator may reach up to 218 cm in length and weigh up to 25 kg.
Hatchlings of Komodo dragon were 30 - 40 cm in length and 80 - 100 grams in weight, and are considerably longer at hatching than other large varanid species. Hatchlings are characterized by a brown pattern with large, distinct yellow and orange spots on the dorsal region and on the snout. The temporal region to the front legs is a light grey coloration with white spots. Front legs are brown with white flecks disposed in round, horizontal circles. The ventral part of the body is light yellow with large dark spots. This juvenile pattern is gradually lost with age.
Sub-adult Komodo deagon, especially females, still present a lighter coloration on the snout, but have an earth-brown body. Adults are commonly brown in colour. Adult females can have a brown-green coloration on their snout. Adut males are larger than females.
Although it is unusual for a reptile to be the predominant predator within their ecosystem, the absence of mammalian carnivores, and the enormous size of adult dragons, coupled with the septic bacteria in their saliva, makes Komodo dragons the apex predator in their ecosystem (Auffenberg 1981; Ciofi 2002). The primary prey species of adult Komodo dragons are three large ungulate species: Timor deer (Cervus timorensis), feral pig (Sus scrofa) and water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) (Auffenberg 1981), with the Timor deer the preferred prey species (Jessop et al. 2006).
Komodo dragon's reproduction activities start in early May. Male dragons usually start this ritual by fighting each other to win the female. On July (after mating), the female will start to dig their nest. Females then lays their eggs (two meters deep underground) on August and guard their egss until December, when they think the nest already save from predators. The Females then will leave the nest and start to hunt their prey again to recover their body condition. Their babies will hatch sometimes between February to April (the end of rain season), where foods for hatcling (insects) are more abundant during this time.
"Developing capacity and reliable knowledge to conserve komodo dragons and it's environment."
Komodo Survival Program (KSP) adalah organisasi nirlaba yang berbasis di Denpasar BALI. KSP bergerak di bidang konservasi, khususnya pada satwa Komodo dan habitatnya.
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