I have seen hell, and it is indisputably on Rinca Island in Indonesia. This Komodo dragon-infested spot is where three British divers who got caught in a rip tide washed up last week. Far from being “misunderstood” reptiles who only “occasionally” attack humans, as my G2 colleague Jon Henley described them afterwards, the Rinca dragons engage in what must be the vilest animal practices ever witnessed by man.
I met three particularly nasty ones last year. We had walked past a few harmless-looking dragons sunning themselves in the bush or lurking under the stilts of houses, and were not beyond thinking we could be friends when we reached a water hole. A large buffalo was lying on its side, clearly having been brought down by two 6ft dragons and one that was even larger. The three reptiles were crawling over it, and during the next 24 hours they proceeded to eat it alive.
The first dragon had grabbed it by its testicles and was starting to chew its way into the body from below. The second dragon was slowly forcing the buffalo’s head open and was going down its throat. The third was, as they say, going in the back door. To make an already grisly scene far worse, the whole slow-motion kill was being conducted in deep mud.
After a few hours all was black – apart from the blood that occasionally bubbled up from the muddy depths, the white saliva that sometimes oozed from the buffalo’s mouth and the bright, flickering forked tongues of the three dragons, which were forever darting around. Slippery things slithered slowly over other slippery things until it was hard to tell whose tail was whose, where one body started and another stopped and who was doing what to whom. The smell was fetid, the heat intense.
Every so often the buffalo shuddered and tried to rise. Was it really still alive? We watched from a few feet away, our guide armed only with a stick, transfixed and disgusted like us. Our stomachs heaved. The buffalo continued to twitch.
We left and returned several times; each time the horror was more complete. The next day, two Americans told us that the three dragons had got deep inside the buffalo, which was still twitching.
June 13, 2008 at 7:03 pm
I’m guessing the author of this article is probably fairly well-traveled, which makes me surprised that he would show that much shock at predators eating prey while still alive. It’s pretty common in nature–as soon as the prey is still enough to no longer present a threat to the predator (injuries are a lot more serious, even small ones, in the wild), it’s fair game. I wonder if he knows about the several species of wasps that lay their eggs in caterpillars that then become food for the larvae, or if he thinks about spiders, which paralyze but don’t kill their prey with an initial bite, then dissolve the prey’s innards while it’s still alive.
Nature isn’t pretty–but that’s no reason not to protect it. Unfortunately, a lot of activists try to portray Nature as nicer as it is to try to garner sympathy, rather than helping people to accept that no, it’s not all about Bambi, but yes, it’s still worth protecting.
June 13, 2008 at 8:15 pm
Hey, I have no illusions about nature being nice and pretty – but damn. Crawling inside a buffalo’s anus and eating your way out? That’s hardcore. Not that I’m in favor of rounding up all the komono dragons in the world and exterminating them or anything.
June 14, 2008 at 11:15 am
Rest assured that buffalo was either inebriated on endogenous chemicals or dead for the majority of its twitching.
June 14, 2008 at 3:38 pm
Most animals attack through the soft spots while eating, the anus, the balls.. those are soft spots in the skin. They do not have knives, or blades, to cut through the thicker and stronger skin of the rest of the body. Even lions go in through the anus. And as Lupa said, why would one animal care about another animal still being alive? It doesn’t make sense in a logical manner. Animals do not understand death, they do not comprehend it. They live on a level of thought that is summed up pretty easily: kill, feed, mate, survive.. As for the rest of this article: where are his sources for such statements as ” Far from being “misunderstood” reptiles who only “occasionally” attack humans” .. that is an unsubstantiated attack on the animal.. why? Because this human has never witnessed an animal feeding?
Perhaps he should have, instead of looking at ways to be disgusted, found beauty within the act that these creatures live.. the circle of life that we all inhabit. (Start the song from Disney’s Lion King.)
June 17, 2008 at 10:53 am
I think we’re all missing the real point here: we need to keep those f’ing lizards as far away from us as possible.