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Komodo National Park
 
Komodo National Park lies in the Wallacea Region of Indonesia, identified by WWF and Conservation International as a global conservation priority area.  The Park is located between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores at the border of the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) and Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) provinces. It includes three major islands, Komodo, Rinca and Padar, and numerous smaller islands together totaling 603 km2 of land.  The total size of Komodo National Park is presently 1,817 km2.  Proposed extensions of 25 km2 of land (Banta Island) and 479 km2 of marine waters would bring the total surface area up to 2,321 km2. 

History
Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1986.  The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1911 by J.K.H. Van Steyn.  Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.

The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi.  Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups.  The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendents of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.
Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island�s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute.

Terrestrial Physical Environment
Topography: The topography is varied, with slopes from 0 � 80%.  There is little flat ground, and that is generally located near the beach.  The altitude varies from sea level to 735 m above sea level. The highest peak is Gunung Satalibo on Komodo Island.
Geology: The islands in Komodo National Park are volcanic in origin. The area is at the juncture of two continental plates: Sahul and Sunda. The friction of these two plates has led to large volcanic eruptions and caused the up thrusting of coral reefs.  Although there are no active volcanoes in the park, tremors from Gili Banta (last eruption 1957) and Gunung Sangeang Api (last eruption 1996) are common. West Komodo probably formed during the Jurassic era approximately 130 million years ago. East Komodo, Rinca, and Padar probably formed approximately 49 million years ago during the Eocene era.

Climate
Komodo National Park has little or no rainfall for approximately 8 months of the year, and is strongly impacted by monsoonal rains. High humidity levels year round are only found in the quasi-cloud forests on mountaintops and ridges. Temperatures generally range from 170C to 340C, with an average humidity level of 36%. From November through March the wind is from the west and causes large waves that hit the entire length of Komodo Island�s west beach.  From April through October the wind is dry and large waves hit the south beaches of Rinca and Komodo islands.

Terrestrial Ecosystems
The terrestrial ecosystems are strongly affected by the climate: a lengthy dry season with high temperatures and low rainfall, and seasonal monsoon rains. The Park is situated in a transition zone between Australian and Asian flora and fauna.  Terrestrial ecosystems include open grass-woodland savanna, tropical deciduous (monsoon) forest, and quasi cloud forest.

Due to the dry climate, terrestrial plant species richness is relatively low. The majority of terrestrial species is xerophytic and has specific adaptations to help them obtain and retain water. Past fires have selected for species that are fire-adapted, such as some grass species and shrubs.   Terrestrial plants found in Komodo National Park include grasses, shrubs, orchids, and trees.  Important food tree species for the local fauna include Jatropha curkas, Zizyphus sp., Opuntia sp., Tamarindus indicus, Borassus flabellifer, Sterculia foetida, Ficus sp., Cicus sp., �Kedongdong hutan� (Saruga floribunda), and �Kesambi� (Schleichera oleosa).

Terrestrial Fauna
The terrestrial fauna is of rather poor diversity in comparison to the marine fauna. The number of terrestrial animal species found in the Park is not high, but the area is important from a conservation perspective, as some species are endemic. Many of the mammals are Asiatic in origin (e.g., deer, pig, macaques, civet). Several of the reptiles and birds are Australian in origin. These include the orange-footed scrub fowl, the lesser sulpher-crested cockatoo and the nosy friarbird.

Other than the Komodo dragon twelve terrestrial snake species are found on the island. Including the cobra (Naja naja sputatrix), Russel�s pit viper (Vipera russeli), and the green tree vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris).   Lizards include 9 skink species (Scinidae), geckos (Gekkonidae), limbless lizards (Dibamidae), and, of course, the monitor lizards (Varanidae).  Frogs include the Asian Bullfrog (Kaloula baleata), Oreophyne jeffersoniana and Oreophyne darewskyi. They are typically found at higher, moister altitudes.

Mammals

Mammals include the Timor deer (Cervus timorensis), the main prey of the Komodo dragon, horses (Equus sp.), water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), wild boar (Sus scrofa vittatus), long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis), palm civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus lehmanni), the endemic Rinca rat (Rattus rintjanus), and fruit bats.  One can also find goats, dogs and domestic cats. 
Birds:  One of the main bird species is the orange-footed scrub fowl (Megapodius reinwardti), a ground dwelling bird.  In areas of savanna, 27 species were observed. Geopelia striata and Streptopelia chinensis were the most common species.  In mixed deciduous habitat, 28 bird species were observed, and Philemon buceroides, Ducula aenea, and Zosterops chloris were the most common.

Demographics

There are presently almost 4,000 inhabitants living within the park spread out over four settlements (Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, and Papagaran). All villages existed prior to 1980 before the area was declared a national park.  In 1928 there were only 30 people living in Komodo Village, and approximately 250 people on Rinca Island in 1930. The population increased rapidly, and by 1999, there were 281 families numbering 1,169 people on Komodo, meaning that the local population had increased exponentially.  Komodo Village has had the highest population increase of the villages within the Park, mostly due to migration by people from Sape, Manggarai, Madura, and South Sulawesi. The number of buildings in Kampung Komodo has increased rapidly from 30 houses in 1958, to 194 houses in 1994, and 270 houses in 2000. Papagaran village is similar in size, with 258 families totaling 1,078 people. As of 1999, Rinca�s population was 835, and Kerora's population was 185 people. The total population currently living in the Park is 3,267 people, while 16,816 people live in the area immediately surrounding the Park.

Places of Interests

KOMODO  island: a main part of the Komodo National Park. Particularly notable here is the native Komodo dragon. In addition, the island is a popular destination for diving. 

RINCAH, also known as Rinca, is a small island near Komodo island . The island is famous for komodo dragons, giant lizards that can measure up to three meters (ten feet) long. Rincah is also populated with many other species such as wild pigs, buffaloes and many birds. The island can be reached with a small boat from Labuanbajo on the west coast of Flores. Being the lesser known island (and less visited) than Komodo it is an ideal place to see the Komodo Dragon in its natural environment with less people to disturb them. It is easy to arrange a day trip from Labuanbajo (on mainland Flores) by small boat. Make sure to check into the park HQ.

PADAR: a small island between the two main islands of Komodo National Park. Padar used to be one of the natural habitat of Komodo Dragon but it seems the dragons not exist anymore on the island.

LOH LIANG: main harbor of Komodo National Park in Komodo island. Park�s main site office is located here together with Museum and Ranger�s house.

LOH BUAYA: National Parks main harbor on Rinca island.

BANUNGGULUNG: former feeding ground and located about 2 km from then Komodo National Park�s post in Loh Ling � Komodo island.

SATALIBO: the highest (735 m) mountain on the National Park, located on Komodo island.

DORO ORA: the highest (667 m) peak on Rinca island

GILI LAWA: a small island next to Komodo island. It is a good place to anchor the boat en route from Sape to Komodo especially during the stormy weather or due to the late departure from Sape.


 
 
 
 
 

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