Wednesday 20th of May the isle of dragons. After breakfast we all went ashore and waited at the Ranger Station has large numbers of tourists began arriving. By the time one of the rangers began his (obviously learnt verbatim from a book) speech they were over 70 people present and we set off to walk the 2 km to the feeding site, accompanied by several stick-wielding rangers and one unfortunate goat.

About 200 m from the feeding enclosure, a huge Komodo erupted from the undergrowth and began lumbering after the guard holding the goat. People are scampering in all directions for the protection of the enclosure and several more dragons appeared, lumbering menacingly after us and causing panic amongst many of the tourists.

The creatures were quite threatening to look at, with long claws on powerful legs, a wildly swinging tail, flicking tongue and dark, evil eyes. The protective enclosure consisted of a ramshackle fence of wire netting and bamboo and several lizards attempted to get it and had to be beaten back by the laxidasical guards who were preparing to relax with cigarettes, their day’s work done.

One side of the enclosure ran along the top of a steep bank with a dry stream bed at the foot and the dragons were gathered waiting for the goat to be thrown down. The goat was slaughtered discreetly away from view – although several tourists watched with morbid fascination – and then the carcass was thrown to the waiting lizards. 

What followed was quite shocking and primaeval. The goat disappeared into a squirming mass of grey leathery skin, flashing teeth and slashing claws. It was disembowelled in less than 10 seconds, the viscera gobble down by blood-stained jaws, and the creatures tore the carcass apart, fighting over pieces of meat and bone. The head was ripped off and swallowed whole by a monstrous dragon and within two minutes nothing remained apart from several pieces of bone being contested by several Komodo dragons.

I shot off a whole roll of film while that awesome display of primaeval savagery went on. I also noticed through the viewfinder as I panned across the crowd that many people were leaning on the fence which in places was only held up by a few dry pieces of dirt. If it had given way, anybody who was unfortunate enough to have tumbled into that pit amongst the dragons would’ve been dead in seconds.

Back on the boat we set sail for Sabulo Island, where once again there was no coral, but we swam and played water polo for an hour or so then headed back to the mainland. At Labuhan Bajo harbour, we unloaded our gear and paid the captain. We tipped the crew 5000 rupiahs each and that seem to please them no end.

Dan, Dub, Linda and I stopped for a fish satay at a small warung on the way back to the Chez Felix and that evening, after most welcome freshwater mandi, we all sat round discussing the trip. It was definitely worth it!

The Komodo Crew: L-R Dan, Thierry, Linda, Ferg, Ed, Michelle, Dub, Sean, Trish.

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