Hinterland Green

Monday, May 25, 2009

Komodo Dragon Attacks Terrorize Indonesian Villages, Government Refuses to Allow Erection of Concrete Wall Around Villages

Nobody would have to tell me to run like crazy if I came face to face with a Komodo dragon. There have been a slew of stories in the news lately about the world's largest lizard. Villagers in Indonesia, who have lived for generations alongside the lizards, are now under attack by these dragons. Two people were killed since 2007, a young boy and a fisherman, while others have been severely wounded after being charged, unprovoked, no less. Komodo dragons, with these shark-like teeth and poisonous venom, can kill a person within hours of a bite.Experts have said Komodo dragon attacks are still rare, but have expressed fear is swirling through the fishing villages, along with questions on how best to live with the dragons in the future. Villagers say the dragons are hungry and more aggressive toward humans because their food is being poached, though park officials are quick to disagree. I don't quite know what to make of this, but something has definitely turned these lizards against the villagers.
Komodos grow to be 10 feet long and 150 pounds. All of the estimated 2,500 left in the wild can be found within the 700-square-mile Komodo National Park, mainly on its two largest islands, Komodo and Rinca. The lizards on neighboring Padar were wiped out in the 1980s when hunters killed their main prey, deer. The animals are believed to have descended from a larger lizard on Indonesia's main island Java or Australia around 30,000 years ago. They can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour, their legs winding around their low, square shoulders like egg beaters.

When they catch their prey, they carry out a frenzied biting spree that releases venom, according to a new study this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, who used surgically excised glands from a terminally ill dragon at the, dismissed the theory that prey die from blood poisoning caused by toxic bacteria in the lizard's mouth. The long, jagged teeth are the lizard's primary weapons, said Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne. Source: Yahoo News
Villagers have reportedly asked for a 6-foot-high concrete wall to be built around their villages, but that idea has been rejected. The head of the park, Tamen Sitorus, said in a recent interview: "It's a strange request. You can't build a fence like that inside a national park!"That's a silly notion because the protection of the villagers should mean something to the powers that be. Residents have made a makeshift barrier out of trees and broken branches, but they complain it's too easy for the animals to break through. I pray that help will be on the way for these villagers. I would hate to live in constant fear of having an encounter with one of these lizards.