30 June 2014 1 of 3




We had a very early start to catch our 1.5 hr Garuda Indonesia flight to Labuan Bajo, the main town at the western end of the island of Flores. We were met at Labuan Bajo's new terminal by Hans and his guys from Flores Komodo Expedition. We went directly to the port for the 2 hrs journey out to Rinca, one of the Komodo Islands which supports a large population of Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), the largest lizard in the world. For me it was a return visit as back in 2001 I had spent a couple of weeks in the Komodo Islands on board the MV Katherine when we filmed Flesh Eaters, one of two Indonesian films in the 2nd season of O'Shea's Big Adventure. We had filmed with dragon researchers Claudio Ciofi from Yale University and the late Putra Sastrowan from Bali University. On that occasion we had visited Komodo, Rinca and Padar islands, and on this trip I was returning to Rinca.

From Loh Buaya (Crocodile Bay) where the tourist boats were moored, it was a short walk along a trail through the mangroves and across a dry salt pan to the Rangers' Station. Here we met our guides, armed with tongkat sticks for protection against dragon attack, and we signed in with Uncle Louis, one of the senior staff who remembered me from my visit 13 years earlier, as did several of the other older rangers and guides.

Rinca Island, the closest of the Komodo Islands to Flores

Loh Buaya or Crocodile Bay
The team and Hans at the entrance to the Ranger Station - this arch was not here in 2001 The Loh Buaya Rangers' Station

Komodo dragons are not hard to find on Rinca and even before we set out for one of the shorter treks I spotted a sub-adult male coming out of the bush onto the salt pan. He obligingly settled down for everyone to take his photograph. We saw six dragons during our short visit, including a copulating pair.

The Komodo dragon, flopped down
on the edge of the mangroves

A copulating pair of Komodo dragons,
Varanus komodoensis

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