Beast from the East
Indonesia is home to the fearsome Komodo Dragon, found on a few of the country’s 18,000 islands, including – of all places! – Komodo Island. They are the largest reptiles in the world and are classified as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Endangered Species list, due to declining population. Let’s take a careful, but closer look at these mysterious beasts:
Komodo Dragons were considered mythological creatures until 1910, when Lieutenant van Steyn van Hensbroek of the Netherlands discovered them. An early expedition to Komodo Island, in 1926, to track down these illusive lizards was the inspiration for the 1933 classic film, King Kong. The leader of that expedition, W. Douglas Burden, is credited with naming the animal.
Although once called “land crocodiles,” they are good swimmers. Hell, they can even climb trees and reach speeds of 14-18 km/h. Komodo Dragons can be cannibalistic, eating older and younger lizards that are unable to protect themselves. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park was the first place to publicly display a Komodo Dragon, in 1934. Because the reptile is the national animal of Indonesia, only the President can authorize one to be removed from the country.
On average, Komodo Dragons measure 8-10 feet and weigh 150-250 pounds, with a tail that is as long as its body. They can live anywhere from 30-50 years. The female Komodo Dragon lays eggs (anywhere from 15 to 30 in each batch) that take about nine months to hatch. The lovable beasts maintain a single mate throughout their life, meaning we’ll never see them on Maury going through lie detector or paternity tests!
You probably wouldn’t want to bring one of these monsters home with you, as there is some debate as to whether Komodo Dragons are venomous or not. Their saliva – which is coloured red – is thought to be poisonous because of septic bacteria, but glands have also been discovered in the animal’s jaw, that contain venom-like secretions that cause quick swelling, issues with blood clotting, shooting pain, and muscle paralysis.
There have been reports of Komodo Dragon attacks on humans, including fatalities. In 2007, an eight-year-old boy was killed, while playing near a village on Komodo Island. Two years later, a 31-year-old man met his end, while picking fruit and falling from a tree, into the waiting mouths of two lizards. Between those two incidents, a group of SCUBA divers were swept away from their boat and onto Rinca Island, where they spent the next two days avoiding assaults, before being rescued.
Actress Sharon Stone’s husband, Phil Bronstein, was attacked by a Komodo Dragon, while on a private tour of the Los Angeles Zoo. Bronstein had removed his white running shoes, so as not to confuse the reptiles, who are fed white rats. It was reported that Bronstein, an editor for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, was only saved by Stone seductively uncrossing her legs – a la Basic Instinct – allowing the man to escape. He needed surgery to repair damaged tendons and a crushed big toe.
Like vultures, Komodo Dragons don’t mind their meat rotten and their prey includes snakes, fish, pigs, deer and the odd water buffalo. Much like snakes, the lizards use a forked tongue to smell dead animals, which they can sense up to 4km away. In one meal, a Komodo Dragon can eat 80% of its body weight, using shark-like teeth. As a result, the Komodo Dragon may only eat once per month and still not have to reach for midnight snacks like potato chips and cookies!
Indonesia: Born to be Wild
- 0.75 oz Pisang Ambon
- 0.75 oz Tequila
- 0.75 oz Vodka
- Top with Lemon-Lime Soda
- Splash of Limeade
- Garnish with a Lime Wedge
As if Komodo Dragons weren’t bad enough, when Mrs. Sip and I were in Indonesia, the Sip Advisor was attacked by monkeys. One ended up on my back only to be chased off by a more dominant primate, who in turn, was chased off by another brute, with all the action occurring on a hunched over Sip Advisor, fearing for his life!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a very good cocktail, which I made a few times after the first sampling. It is pretty potent, despite the light alcohol content of the Pisang Ambon, so imbibe at your own risk. This is basically a really awesome alternative to the delicious Long Island Iced Tea!