Doodling with Dragons


Google Doodle, the constantly changing Google logo featuring date-specific illustrations, adds a little ‘infotainment’ with ideas and topics people might never think about otherwise.

An artist’s rendering of a Komodo dragon. (Not drawn to scale!); Picture source: Google Doodle

On March 6, 2017, the featured Google Doodle celebrated the 37th anniversary of Komodo National Park, while in India, the doodle was in celebration of Holi.

So how much do you know about Komodo National Park and its star attraction, the Komodo dragons?Located in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia, Komodo National park is home to the rare Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis).

The big eater!

Originally established in 1980 to protect the 2500 Komodo dragons who call it home, the park’s scope has expanded to other native wildlife like the Timor deer, which is the main source of food for the Komodo dragon. Let that sink in…there is a lizard big enough and fast enough to catch and eat an entire DEER! Seventy-two species of birds including the yellow-crested cockatoo live here too.

In addition, a marine reserve has recently been established to protect the thousands of marine species that cohabit the surrounding waters.  The landscape they inhabit can be either a dry savanna or a lush forest region, all surrounded by blinding white beaches and equally bright blue water.

Some trivia!

In addition, a marine reserve has recently been established to protect the thousands of marine species that cohabit the surrounding waters.  The landscape they inhabit can be either a dry savanna or a lush forest region, all surrounded by blinding white beaches and equally bright blue water. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site and Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Not known to the western world until 1910, the Komodo dragon is actually a super-sized cousin of the Indian Water Monitor Lizard that has been evolving in isolation over millions of years. Reaching up to 10 feet in length and weighing about one-third the weight of a grand piano, Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth.

They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, a mouth with 60 serrated teeth and a long forked tongue. The saliva of the Komodo was thought to contain toxic bacteria, but recent research indicates that they have venom glands in their lower jaw. Other scary facts about these wannabe dinosaurs; they can run in abrief sprints at half the speed of Usain Bolt, dive up to 15 feet, climb trees and even stand on their hind legs using the tail as a support. They can be mean and very aggressive, so save your selfies for visits with the more benign and happy quokka!

The Komodo dragon is unquestionably a huge tourist attraction and an economic boon to the people who live on the island. The Dragons are Indonesia’s best-conserved large animal and are protected under Indonesian law. In contrast, the country’s populations of orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos are increasingly at risk as the rainforest is destroyed for mining, timber and paper industries.

After a busy day, even the Komodo dragon cannot resist taking time to enjoy the beautiful beaches and clear blue ocean; Photo Source: www.123rf.com/profile_kjorgen'>kjorgen / 123RF Stock Photo

Other attractions at the Komodo National Park

Even if Dragons are not your thing, Komodo National Park offers some of the most incredible diving sites in the world. You can find hundreds of species of beautiful corals, thousands of fish species, seventy kinds of sponges, ten kinds of dolphins, six types of whales, green turtles, various sharks and stingrays, all of which are largely undocumented and unexplored.

So next time you see a Google Doodle, check it out. You never know who or what you’ll meet!

 

Photo story by Joshua Cheek | 3 Photos | Edited by Dominic D’Cruz