Interview with a Komodo
By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times
With Indonesiaâ€™s Komodo Dragon, the worldâ€™s largest monitor lizard, in the news recently for having killed a human, we are left with the nagging question, â€œWhy do they hate us?â€ While itâ€™s not common for Komodo Dragons to dine on humans, it does happen from time to time.
I thought Iâ€™d go and visit the dragons myself and get their story on what it is that makes us humans so delectable.
I had just set foot on Rinca island, and was walking down a path when I ran into a dragon. “Excuse me,â€ I said to him. â€œWould you mind being interviewed for The Bali Times?â€
“Sure,â€ he said. â€œWhat would you like to know?â€
â€œWell, to start off, whatâ€™s your name?â€
So Varanus, you are quite a long fellow.â€
â€œEleven feet, to be exact.â€
“How much do you weigh?”
“500 pounds,â€ he said. â€œI’m full,” he added, giving me a toothy grin. “I ate a water buffalo this morning.”
â€œA water buffalo?â€
“Oh, you should have seen – it was quite a feast! Felling prey is always a joyous occasion, and this time, having bagged such a large one, I was very proud. So I invited 30 dragon friends to join in the feast. What a party!”
“How did you manage to kill something so big?”
“See my long scaly tail? Itâ€™s very useful in felling prey. When we bite an animal, magic bacteria in our saliva enter the wound and kill the animal slowly over a couple of days. While waiting, I send out invitations to the feast. Then I just watch and wait from the sidelines until the animal falls.”
“And then what?”
“Surely you have noticed my beautiful talons. With five on each claw, I have 20 to assist me in ripping open the stomach of my prey. Then everyone joins in and we practically inhale the entire corpse!”
“How do you manage to eat the bones?”
“We have detachable jaws. Formidable, aren’t I?” he said, laughing while flicking his yellow, forked tongue in and out.
“Quite,” I agreed. “What other things do you eat?”
“We are carnivores, so we eat mostly other animals, like deer, monkeys, pigs and horses.”
“Mostly? Do you, um, eat people?”
“Leaping lizards – of course! People are delicious. But also very rare. Humans are considered a delicacy. Heh, heh, heh, heh.”
“Have you ever eaten a person?”
“No, I’ve never had the good fortune. But I know other dragons who have. They all say the same thing, “No regrets!” It’s illegal to eat humans, though, so if there are witnesses, we’d get prosecuted. So it’s all done under the table – the dinner table, that is. Heh, heh, heh, heh.”
“What do humans taste like?”
“But you dragons eat each other, too, don’t you?”
“Absolutely. Especially those little baby dragons – quite scrumptious. They know this and hide up in trees until they’re about 2 years old and can fend for themselves. The female dragons with eggs also must be very careful.”
“I can’t believe you guys eat each other. Thatâ€™s so sick!”
“You humans do some pretty sick things, too. You wear animals: animal pelts, snakeskin boots, bone necklaces, rabbit-foot key chains. Although we do eat people for food, itâ€™s strictly a survival thing. We would never accessorize with them afterward. And don’t even get me started on the illegal wildlife trade. We happen to be proud that we eat your race. Itâ€™s not that we hate you, but the only way to protect ourselves from you is to eat you.â€
“In 1915, our island was declared a protected sanctuary. Yet still our habitat is constantly threatened, our numbers have dropped and there is not enough food for us. Alas, we are now an endangered species. I ‘prey’ to God we can continue to exist.”
“What is your favorite movie?” I said, trying to end the interview on a lighter note.
“King Kong. W. Douglas Burden came to Komodo Island in 1926 and was so impressed with us and how we effectively terrorized the villagers living here that he took some of us to New York, helping to inspire the original King Kong movie.”
“Wow, really?” I said, fumbling for a felt-tip pen to get his autograph.
â€œHey look, Iâ€™ve gotta go. My friend is having a wild pig feast. Want to come? We could use some dessert.â€
I politely declined and put my felt-tip back in my pocket.
Komodo Dragons are solitary creatures, keeping mostly to themselves except when it comes time to mate, in which the males suddenly blossom into romantic, sensitive guys. Lounge lizards they are not, and tend to meet potential partners instead at group feedings, which means huddled around the carcass. In human terms, this is like gathering around the steaks on the BBQ. For you men out there wanting a little more romance in your life, take some tips from the Komodo Dragon: rub your chin on her head and neck, and try scratching her back. Be prepared to hang out with her a few days if necessary to charm her into mating.Filed under: The Island