Covering an area of 1,904,569 km², the island nation of Indonesia comprises more than 17,504 islands and is considered the largest and most diverse archipelago on the planet. This Southeast Asian nation is also home to around 54 national parks and currently there are a total of 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Indonesia, 5 of which are cultural heritage and 4 are natural heritage sites. .
With a total area of 1,733 km², Komodo National Park is located in the small Sunda Islands, along the border between the Indonesian provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. Komodo National Park was established in 1980, initially to protect the endemic Komodo dragon, but its conservation goals were later extended to protect both the terrestrial and marine biodiversity of the national park. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Located in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, in a narrow channel between the Flores Islands and Sumbawa, Komodo National Park is made up of three main islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar as well as over 26 smaller islands. All the islands in the national park are believed to have arisen from volcanic eruptions. Komodo National Park is located in the Wallacea biogeographic region, constituting the active volcanic “Broken belt” between the Sunda and Australian ecosystems. The islands of the national park have rugged terrain and feature rounded hills that peak at 735m above sea level.
Komodo National Park experiences a hot and dry climate, with the harsh dry season starting from May to October with an average temperature of around 40 ° C. The park receives average rainfall ranging from 800 to 1000 mm per year.
The fauna and the flora
The dry climate of Komodo National Park favors the growth of savanna grasslands. Cloud forests are also found which provide suitable habitat for various endemic flora. However, these cloud forests only appear in a few areas which culminate at an altitude of more than 500 m. The coastal vegetation of the national park is characterized by mangrove forests which are mainly found in the protected bays of the three main islands. Fringing and plate coral reefs are found along the northeast coast of Komodo Island.
It is estimated that over 1000 species of tropical fish, 260 species of corals and many marine mammals are found in Komodo National Park. Some of the notable marine animals found in the waters surrounding the park include the blue-ringed octopus, pygmy seahorse, whale sharks, sunfish, eagle rays, mantas, sponges, nudibranchs, sperm whales, blue whales, dolphins, miniature whales, sea turtles and dugongs.
The savanna grasslands of Komodo National Park serve as critical habitats for the world’s largest lizard, the poisonous Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis). The Komodo dragon is endemic to this Indonesian national park. In addition to this, around 12 species of terrestrial reptiles are found in the park, including Russell’s viper, Java spitting cobra, Timor python, blue-lipped sea krait, and more. Several species of geckos, skinks, monitor lizards and limbless lizards are also found. Many species of amphibians like the endemic Komodo cross frog, Asian bull frog, etc. are found in the national park. Some of the notable mammals found here include crab-eating macaque, Timor rusa deer, Asian palm civet, fruit bats, wild boar, water buffalo, Rinca rat, etc.
About 72 species of birds have been recorded in Komodo National Park. Some of the important birds that are found in both the tropics and savannahs of the national park include the orange-footed fowl, the spotted dove, the lesser Sulpher crested cockatoo, the helmeted sparrow, the zebra dove, the green imperial pigeon, jungle eye white belly, etc.
In 1938, the island of Padar and part of Rinca were designated as nature reserves. In 1965, Komodo Island also became a nature reserve. As part of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program, Komodo Island was subsequently declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1977. In 1980, the three islands were declared a National Park, which was later extended into 1984 to include part of Flores and the surrounding area. marine area. Komodo National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Most of the people who live around the national park are fishermen, hailing from the regions of South Sulawesi, Bima, South Flores and from Manggarai. Due to the park’s rich marine biodiversity, scuba diving is one of the most popular recreational activities for tourists visiting Komodo National Park.