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Jumat, 13 Februari 2009

KOMODO NATIONAL PARK, THE PEOPLE AND THE ECO SYSTEM


by : Fahry Bima 2009
Tetangga Komodo purba

Nestled between eastern Sumbawa and western Flores lie three tiny grass-covered islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, which together form the Komodo National Park, a protected wildlife reserve. This is the home of the giants lizard known as the "Komodo Dragon" it was thought to be a myth until the turn of the century, when fishermen who were forced by a storm to take shelter on Komodo sight the monsters.

Komodo National Park has widely known with the home of the giant lizard Komodo Dragon - which has just declare to be one of the latest heritage of the world. Komodo National Park is nestled between eastern Sumbawa and western Flores lie three tiny grass-covered islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, which together form the Komodo National Park, a protected wildlife reserve. This is the home of the giants lizard known as the "Komodo Dragon" it was thought to be a myth until the turn of the century, when fishermen who were forced by a storm to take shelter on Komodo sight the monsters.

The islands of Komodo National Park are generally young , oceanic volcanic islands which are constantly : rising, eroding, and subsiding in the sea. West Komodo was probably the first to form from volcanic activity in the Jurrasic era about 130 - 134 million years ago. East Komodo, Padar and Rinca are younger and probably emerged in the Eocene era about 49 million years ago.

Basically Komodo National Park is encompasses over 173.300 ha of 40.728 ha land and 132.572 ha sea. Three largest islands dominated the land, are Komodo (33.937 ha) Rinca (19.625 ha) and Padar (2.017 ha). Land topography is rugged with the highest point 735 m at mount Satalibo.

There are no active volcanoes in the park although the islands are located in one of the world's most active volcanic belts, tremors from volcanic belt are common. The closest active volcano last erupted in 1975. Gunung Sangeang Api located northwest of Komodo island last erupted in 1997 and is still smoking from the northern peak.

The many animals in Komodo National Park are an important part of the ecology of Komodo dragons. The Komodo dragon is top predator in its environment and all animals in the park are potential prey of the Komodo dragon. The fauna is a combination of Asia and Australian species including 277 animals species, of which 25 are protected. These include 32 mammal species, 90 bird species and 36 reptile species.

A small island of 280 square km, Komodo is located between Sumbawa and Flores islands. It is famous for its giant lizards, considered the last of their kind remaining in the world today, the Komodo dragon. Called "ora" by the local people, Komodo "Dragon" (Varanus Komodoensis) is actually a giant monitor lizard. Growing up to 3 to 4 meters in length, its ancestors roamed the earth up to about half a million years ago. Komodo live on goats, deer, and even the carcasses of its own kind. The only human population on the island is at the fishing village called Komodo who supplement their income-breeding goats, which are used to feed the lizards. The Komodo had protected by the law and although they are considered harmless, it is advisable to keep them at a distance. Komodo Island is now a nature reserve, home to a number of rare bird species, deer, and wild pigs, which are prey to the lizards as well.

To see the lizards in the daytime, baits have to be set in the hinterland where local guides are necessary. The sea surrounding the island offers vistas of sea life, crystal clear waters, and white sandy beaches. The only accommodation available is in simple guesthouses in the fishing village. It is advisable to carry food supplies. The best time to visit the island is between March and June, and between October and December. Komodo is accessible from the sea only. Fly to Labuan Bajo, from where it is about 3-4 hours by boat to the island.

KOMODO DRAGON (Varanus Komodoensis)
1. Basic Facts
Komodo dragons are the largest living lizard in the world. They are a type of monitor Lizard of the Varanidae family. When frightened, Komodo dragons can run up to 18km/h for a short distance. Usually, they run at a slow trot of 8 - 10km/h. The largest Komodo dragon measured weighed 165.9kg (365pounds). Large dragons usually weigh up to 90kg. It is hard to tell the difference between male and female dragons. However, males have a special scale pattern at the based of their tail. generally, males grow larger than females. The largest recorded Komodo dragon length is 3.13m (10feet 2 inches). Female Komodo dragons rarely grow over 2.5m (7feet 6 inches) in length. Scientist believe that Komodo dragons can live up to 50 years, maybe longer. Komodo dragons can swim at least 500m. However, they become sluggish in the water because the water cools their body temperature down.

Young dragons spend most of their time in trees but dragons over 1.5m long can not climb well. Dragons over 2 meters are too heavy to climb trees. The Komodo dragons are constantly regulating their body temperatures. In the early morning, they must warm-up their bodies in the sun. If their body temperature drops too low, the food in their stomach can rot and cause regurgitation or even death. However, the Komodo dragon's body temperature must not exceed 42 degrees celcius (108 degrees Fahrenheit). When it is too hot, they must rest and seek shade to prevent their body from over-heating. Dragons are most active from 6 - 10am in the morning and again from 3 - 5pm in the afternoon. During the rainy season. Komodo dragons stay in burrows if they are too cold. Komodo dragons sleep at night because it is usually too cool for them to be active. They will sleep where they will not loose too much heat at the edge of the savanna and monsoon forest or in burrows. The average sleeping burrow is only 75cm to 1.25m in length. The Komodo dragons will use the burrows of rodents, palm civets, wild board, porcupine (on Flores) and those made by other Komodo dragons. Nesting burrows are about 2 meters long.

POPULATION & HABITAT
There are about 3.300 Komodo dragons in the park and in Flores. 1996/97 surveys showed 1.687 Komodo dragons in Komodo island and 1.223 Komodo dragons in Rinca For every female, there are about 3 males. Perhaps a small percentage of females is a response to keep the Komodo dragon populations from growing too quickly. Komodo dragons are only found in Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motang, and small part of north and west Flores island. There are recently extict in Padar. Dragons can be found almost everywhere on Komodo and Rinca. They can be found in the monsoon forest, in the savanna, on the beach, in the mangrove swamps and in burrows. Sometimes the younger one are found in the trees. The Komodo dragon's range is mostly from sea level to 450m above sea level. Their locations depends on their activity.

ORIGINS
Komodo dragons are one of the oldest living lizards. Direct ancestors of the Komodo dragons (Varanidae family) lived in 50 million years ago. Komodo dragons may have decent from a larger lizard from Java or from Australia (Megalania Prisca) which existed 30.000 years ago.

REPRODUCTION
Female dragons starts mating when they are 7 years old and male dragons start mating when they are 8 years old. The mating season of the Komodo dragons is from July to August. Female Komodo dragons lay up to 30 eggs. The average number of eggs is 18 per clutch, one clutch per year. Female Komodo dragons lay their eggs in a burrow. Often they use the mound of the scrub fowl. The female dragon digs several false tunnels so that predators can not find the eggs easily. The Komodo dragons eggs incubate for 8 - 9 months. The eggs hatch in March - April. The average size of Komodo dragons eggs are 8.6cm long, with diameter of 5.9cm and a weight of 105 grams. The eggs are about the size of swan eggs. The shells are soft and leathery. The average length is 30.4cm but their size can vary from 28cm to 55cm. The average weight is 80.3 grams.

MAMMALS
The most commonly seen mammals of Komodo National Park include : Timor deer, wild boar, wild horses, water buffalo and crab-eating macaques, palm civet, bats, mice and Rats. The Komodo dragons will prey or scavenge on the remains of all these animals.

BIRDS
The birds in Komodo National park represent a mixture of Asian and Australian species. Some birds are eaten mainly by medium-sized dragons.
Lesser Sulpher-crested cockatoos, Noisy friarbird, Orange - footed Scrub Fowl, Wallacean Drongo, Gree Jungle Fowl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Black-napped Oriele, Collared Kingfishers, Great-billed heron, White-bellied Sea Eagle

REPTILE AND OTHER FAUNA OF KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Komodo dragons eat a variety of reptiles, including snakes, skinks and other types of lizards. Other creatures on the islands of Komodo National Park include spiders, amphibians, butterflies, grasshoppers and other insects.

MARINE ECOSYSTEM AT KOMODO
Explore the under water live and its ecosystems which has well known as the best diving site in the world. From beautiful coral, reefs, thousands sort of fishes to the crystal water and beautiful beach are await to visit. Komodo dragons live in one of the driest area in Indonesia, where there are few permanent water sources.
The are three main types of tropical coastal marine ecosystem:
-Coral Reefs
-Sea-grass Beds
-Mangrove Habitats

CORAL REEFS
Coral reefs are a community of many different marine plants and animals, both living and dead. The first reefs developed about 400 million years ago, but modern reef have only existed for some 5 million years. The physical structure of the reef is mainly made of limestone from hard coral skeletons; however the remains of other organisms that contain calcium carbonate material also adds to the reef structure (such as shells of clams, and forms). Over time, broken bits of coral skeleton and calcium carbonate material are cemented together by a type of red coralline algae and by magnesium calcite particles found in the sea water.

The reefs of Komodo National Park are an important habitat for about 1000 species of fishes, over 250 species of reef-building corals, and at least 105 species of crustaceans and 70 species of sponges. Coral reefs are also important for shore-line protection and are source of pharmaceutical compounds such as anti-cancer agents.

TYPE OF CORAL REEFS
FRINGING REEFS, TAKA & SEAMOUNTS, BARRIER REEFS & PATCH REEFS

SEA-GRASS BEDS
Sea-grass beds are usually found in calm, shallow water, between the shore and a coral reef. They are made up of seagrasses, which are a type of flowering plant. Sea grasses are an important shelter for many young fish and invertebrates. Many animals eat sea grass such as turtles, dugongs, molluses and urchins.

MANGROVES
Mangroves are a natural physical barrier against soil erosion and they also provide a unique eco system. The arial roots are an important breeding ground, nursery and shelter for juvenille fish and shrimp. Mangroves also provide habitat for crabs, molluses, estuarine crocodiles and provide rooting/nesting grounds for many seabirds. Traditionally, mangroves are a source of firewood, building materials, tannin, dyes, medicine and fruit for local communities.

MARINE PLANTS
Marina Plants include algae, sea-grasses, and mangroves. Plants are an important food source or habitat for many different reef animals. Marine plants, like land plants, require sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce food for their survival.

MANGROVES
Mangroves are a special tree that can live in salty soil or water. Part of the mangrove root is above the water so that it can take carbon dioxide from the air. Some mangroves have seeds that float in the sea until they find suitable ground to grow on. Other mangroves have long pods which germinate on the tree and then drop into the mud below the parent tree. Komodo National Park has 18 different kinds of mangrove trees.

FORAMS
Simple reef-building protozoans (tiny plant - like animals) that are often overlooked. They are made up of a blob of jelly with a hard calcium carbonate shell. The shell is covered in protoplasm which can be expanded and contracted for slow locomotion. The protoplasm is able to feed on microscopic organisms, expel waste and exchange gases. Some forams can float in the water, others are anchored to the reef. Broken forams shells make a large portion of coral sand and limestone.

SEAGRASS (SEAWEED)
Seagrasses are a modern plant that produce flowers, fruits and seeds for reproduction. As their name suggests, they generally look like large blades of grass growing underwater in sand near the shore.
LOCAL PEOPLE AT KOMODO
There are a total of over 2,300 people living in the park. There are only 3 village in the park. Komodo village has 1400 people, Rinca village has 1074 people and Kerora Village has 223 people

In Komodo village , most people are originally from Bima (East Sumbawa), Selayar (South Sulawesi) and Manggarai (West Flores). In Rinca village, the people come from the same places as Komodo village, but there are also Bajo people from Sulawesi. In Kerora village, the people originally came from Bima and Manggarai.

There is some evidence that the original people of Komodo lived on Gunung Ara. Trees such as jackfruit, coconut and mango, as well as remains of ceramics on Gunung Ara suggest that people once inhabited that area several hundred years ago.

However, the people of Komodo village are thought to have settled there less than 100 years ago. There is a story that the settler of Komodo village were exiles from Bima.

Most people who live in the park are fishermen, but there are also merchants and teachers. Some people carve Komodo dragons for sale to the visitors.

TEMPERATURE AT KOMODO
Komodo dragons live in one of the driest area in Indonesia, where there are few permanent water sources.

Different temperatures during the year in different habitats will influence the Komodo dragon's range. Rains falls mainly from December to March and less then 800mm per year.

The climate is strongly effected by monsoon winds and the amount of moisture they bring in. From April to October , dry southeast trade winds from Australia bring very little moisture to the area. From January to February, the northwest monsoon comes in from Asia. The wind brings moisture with it, but most of the moisture is dropped over west Indonesia before it reaches the park.

The highest annual temperature in the park is 43 degrees Celcius, the minimum is 17 degrees Celcius. November is the hottest month of the year. The hottest part of the day is at noon and just afterwards. Komodo dragons seek shade and rest when the temperature is too warm.

The highest humidity is in February at 86%. The lowest humidity is in October at 75%. Komodo dragons are less active in high humidity and in rain.

Traveling during the wet season preferable to see the green forest.

Adapted From : Website : www.korindo-network.com

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elfahrybimantara*  Aktifitas mengajar disiplin bidang kelautan dan perikanan. Konsern dengan dunia kelautan dan perikanan. Senang dengan wisata bahari. Mengabdi di Pemkab Bima NTB. Pendidikan Magister Perikanan di Universitas Brawijaya Malang (strata 2) pada bidang bioteknology perikanan. Mari bertukar informasi. Salam Sahabat Blogger.
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