Komodo National Park is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both terrestrial and marine. In 1986, the Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park's biological importance.
Komodo National Park includes three major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of 1817km (proposed extensions would bring the total surface area up to 2,321km2). As well as being home to the Komodo dragon, the Park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. Moreover, the Park includes one of the richest marine environments including coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays. These habitats harbor more than 1,000 species of fish, some 260 species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong, sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and sea turtles also make Komodo National Park their home.
Famous for its giant lizards, considered the last of their kind remaining in the world today, the Komodo dragon. Called "ora" by the local people, Komodo "Dragon" (Varanus Komodoensis) is actually a giant monitor lizard. Growing up to 3 to 4 meters in length, its ancestors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago. Komodo live on goats, deer, and even the carcasses of its own kind. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo who supplement their income-breeding goats, which are used to feed the lizards. The Komodo had protected by the law and although they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep them at a distance. Komodo Island is now a nature reserve, home to a number of rare bird species, deer, and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well.
To see the lizards in the daytime, baits have to be set in the hinterland where local guides are necessary. The sea surrounding the island offers vistas of sea life, crystal clear waters, and white sandy beaches. The only accommodation available is in simple guesthouses in the fishing village. It is advisable to carry food supplies. The best time to visit the island is between March and June, and between October and December. Komodo is accessible from the sea only. Fly to Labuan Bajo, from where it is about 3-4 hours by boat to the island.
Komodo National Park a World Heritage Site
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