Love The Komodo Dragon
At 33-years-old, this Komodo dragon is middle-aged. She is happy in her warm home, roaming around her protected island in search of food or simply just relaxing in the shade. She is so glad that people were able to see the beauty in her, even if she may look a bit different, and decide to protect her. She is so grateful for what they have done and hopes that her kind will flourish with their support.
Found only in Indonesia, mainly on the Komodo Island, the Komodo dragon laze in the warm sun. The largest lizard in the world, it grows to an average of 2-3 meters long and weighs about 70 kg. They are quite bizarre creatures with 60 serrated teeth that are constantly replacing themselves and saliva tinged with blood. They have nostrils that are not very good at smelling things. Instead, their skin has sensory plaques that connect to nerves which helps them have a sense of touch. Their skin also acts as a kind of armour with bony deposits which develop with age. Acting like the rings of a tree, you can tell the age of a dragon by looking at this.
They eat meat, mainly carrion but can hunt and ambush prey, even standing on their hind legs to catch out an out of reach lunch or using their large tail to knock down a larger animal. They also have a venomous bite which can be fatal. When a Komodo dragon bites their prey, all they have to do is follow them until they eventually die. Because their metabolism is so slow, they don’t need to eat much and can survive on 12 meals per year. That being said, they can eat 80% of their body weight in one go. They also can’t suck or lap up water. To drink they take a mouthful of water then throw their head back to allow it to run down their throat.
Komodo dragons can reproduce in two ways. They can form monogamous pairs, very unusual for lizards. But they can also produce offspring through parthenogenesis, a type of asexual reproduction where she would lay unfertilised eggs. A female Komodo dragon will lay around 20 eggs at a time which she lays into abandoned nests of the megapode, a local chicken-like bird. The eggs incubate for 7-8 months to hatch out in a time when insects are plentiful. The babies will climb into the safety of trees to avoid any predators, including adult Komodo dragons who would eat them if they had the chance.
The good news for the Komodo dragon, the Indonesian government recognised the dangers humans posed to this creature and moved to protect them, creating the Komodo National Park in 1980. But there are still many threats. Volcanic activity, earthquakes, loss of habitat, tourism, and poaching both of prey and the dragons themselves are all an issue. Despite it being illegal to trade any part of the dragon there are still cases. In 2019, a criminal network was caught trying to smuggle 41 young dragons out of the country.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES