Komodo: Living with the Deadly Dragons

Komodo: Living with the Deadly Dragons

The world's largest and most dangerous lizards live on an Indonesian island where residents -- and tourists -- give them a wide berth. (Time)

Komodo islanders like to tell visitors the story of the Swiss baron who went hiking alone and disappeared, leaving only his camera and glasses behind. Best guess is that a Komodo dragon — one of the hundreds that roam this desolate island armed with powerful, poison-filled jaws — ate him.

Time magazine travels to Komodo National Park, where the native population of Bugis fishermen have managed to coexist for generations with the deadly ten-foot lizards. Veteran park ranger Yusuf Sahabun explains that although a dragon occasionally kills a human — the most recent incident being three years ago — the locals are not afraid of them. He casually points out a pair of dragons lounging under the staff housing.

The recession has made it even harder to eke out a living on barren Komodo Island, however, since fewer tourists come to see the reptiles and buy dragon wood carvings. Although most Bugis understand their codependence with the dragons, they worry that poachers could upset the delicate balance that keeps the dragons from extinction.


Length: 3:48

Reporter and videojournalist: Jason Motlagh
Supervising producer: Craig Duff