Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 24th, 2009
Two Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) have mauled a fruit picker to death after he fell out of a tree in an orchard in eastern Indonesia, in a rare attack on humans by the world’s largest lizard, the UK’s Guardian is reporting on March 24, 2009.
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting the man was an Indonesian fisherman who was the one killed by the Komodo dragons after he was attacked while trespassing on a remote island in search of fruit. Muhamad Anwar, 32, bled to death on his way to hospital after being mauled by the reptiles at Loh Sriaya, in eastern Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, the park’s general manager Fransiskus Harum told CNN.
“The fisherman was inside the park when he went looking for sugar-apples. The area was forbidden for people to enter as there are a lot of wild dragons,” Harum said on Tuesday.
The man, Muhamad Anwar, 31, was found bleeding from bites to his hands, body, legs and neck within minutes of falling out of a sugar-apple tree on the island of Komodo and died later at a clinic on neighbouring Flores. The giant lizards had been waiting for him under the tree, according to a neighbour, Theresia Tawa.
The carnivorous Komodos, which live for up to 50 years, can grow to 10ft in length and weigh up to 200lbs. Though they rarely attack humans – and had not previously killed an adult for more than 30 years – an eight-year-old boy died after being mauled in 2007 and attacks are said to be increasing as their habitat becomes restricted. Their diet usually consists of smaller animals, including other members of their own species.
There are thought to be only about 4,000 left in the wild on the five Indonesian islands they inhabit, Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Dasami and Gili Motang, although there are more than 50 in captivity, including 13 in European zoos. Indonesians, who are said to believe the dragons are reincarnations of their ancestors, have in the past propitiated them by sacrificing goats.
Komodo dragons, first identified by western explorers only 99 years ago, are meat-eaters and can move at up to 12mph in pursuit of prey. They can climb trees, though they mainly lurk in scrubland waiting for passing potential victims, and have been known to eat up to 80% of their own body weight in a single meal.
They use sharply serrated teeth to tear meat and their saliva is particularly poisonous, containing more than 50 strains of bacteria, which means that even if victims escape, without treatment they are likely to die of infection: the dragons trot after them, or use their strong sense of smell – reputedly able to sniff out decaying flesh at five miles’ range – to track their prey.
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