Komodo: World Wonders of Nature

Dec 6th, 2010, in Featured, Travel, by

The Komodo dragon to be Indonesia's face to the world in tourism promotion; Komodo Island in the 7 Natural Wonders of the World competition.

The Secretary to the directorate general of the Culture and Tourism Ministry Noviendi Makalam said recently that the Komodo dragon, the giant lizard species found on its namesake island in Nusa Tenggara Timur near Flores, will be the national tourism icon or theme for 2011.

Next year, we will make Komodo as a main theme for our tourism

All tourism promotion events would make use of komodo symbolism, he said, largely because the Komodo Island National Park is in the running to be named one of the "New 7 World Wonders of Nature".

Komodo National Park, which includes the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones, founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, is one of 28 finalists in the New 7 World Wonders of Nature competition.

New Seven Wonders of Nature Map
Map of the 28 finalists. Full size

The 7 winners will be determined by online voting, and announced on the auspicious date of November 11th, 2011 (11/11/11). Voting can be done here.

The full list of sites in the running:

  • The Amazon (Bolivia/Brazil/Colombia/Ecuador/French Guiana/Guyana/Peru/Suriname/Venezuela)
  • Angel Falls (Venzuela)
  • Bay of Fundy (Canada)
  • Black Forest (Germany)
  • Bu Tinah Island (United Arab Emirates)
  • Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
  • Dead Sea (Israel/Jordan)
  • El Yunque (Puerto Rico)
  • Galapagos (Ecuador)
  • Grand Canyon (United States)
  • Great Barrier Reef (Australia/Papua New Guinea)
  • Halong Bay (Vietnam)
  • Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil)
  • Jeita Grotto (Lebanon)
  • Jeju Island (South Korea)
  • Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)
  • Komodo (Indonesia)
  • Maldives (Maldives)
  • Masurian Lake District (Poland)
  • Matterhorn/Cervino (Italy/Switzerland)
  • Milford Sound (New Zealand)
  • Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan)
  • Puerto Princesa Underground River (Philippines)
  • Sundarbans (India)
  • Table Mountain (South Africa)
  • Ayer's Rock (Australia)
  • Vesuvius (Italy)
  • Yushan (Taiwan)

34 Comments on “Komodo: World Wonders of Nature”

  1. avatar Chris says:

    •Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan)

    Hey, Indonesia has one of them too! See here.

  2. avatar David says:

    Unfortunately the New 7 (manmade) Wonders of the World competition is over; Sidoarjo mudflow was unplaced.

  3. avatar timdog says:

    David, that picture on the bottom right of your little six-shot photo wall in the above post ain’t Komodo. It’s the Segara Anak crater lake in the middle of the Gunung Rinjani caldera… Rinjani, incidentally, is fairly high on my personal very long list of “wonders of Indonesia”…

    On Komodo, it does make sense for them to push this as a sort of figurehead for tourism promotion, even if it doesn’t get “world wonder” status. personally I find the beasts a little dull (I mean, they don’t do anything; they just lie there), and though the Komodo National Park is nice – all those little brown islands, that blue, blue water – it’s not the most mind-blowing bit of Indonesia I’ve seen.
    However, for mysterious reasons a serious buzz seems to have developed around Komodo tourism in the last two or three years. backpackers and divers have been passing that way for decades, but suddenly it seems that everyone on a two-week trip to Bali wants to make a sidetrip to Komodo, and the sleepy little town of Labuanbajo, previously home to a few ramshackle diveshops and some decaying guesthouses, left over from a decade and a half back, when the going was good on the Lonely Planet trail, doesn’t seem to know what’s hit it…

    This apparently organic rise of the place as a “hot” destination only serves to prove a point I always make whenever there’s discussion of the Indonesian authorities ham-fisted attempts at nurturing tourism – tourism is an organic thing; brochures, guidebooks, travel mags, campaigns are all useful fertilisers, but without the mysterious initial seed, you’ll be spraying your nitrates on stony ground…

    Latching onto the zeitgeist – by pushing an already-rising-of-its-own-accord Komodo – is about the only thing they can sensibly do…

  4. avatar David says:

    that picture on the bottom right of your little six-shot photo wall in the above post ain’t Komodo.

    Thanks, it is now…

  5. avatar ET says:

    tourism is an organic thing

    … and as such prone to rot and decay. I can see it every day.

  6. avatar timdog says:

    I really do think it might be time for you to leave Bali, ET…

  7. avatar Lomboksurfer says:

    Didn’t I read where the bloody Komodo Dragon is the only bloody species of reptile that can produce fertilized eggs of both male and female without a bleedin mate? Now if that’s blloody true than that’s a bleedin wonder in itself! Only in bloody Indonesia dudes, where the craftiest females on the planet reside and if in a bloody pinch they can reproduce there own future mates ha ha ha!

  8. avatar Masal Dinle says:

    The world’s most venomous reptiles
    Provided to die 20 days after biting the leg of a bull.

  9. avatar ET says:

    Didn’t I read where the bloody Komodo Dragon is the only bloody species of reptile that can produce fertilized eggs of both male and female without a bleedin mate?

    No wonder they can’t find a mate with a stinking breath like that.

  10. avatar mingo says:

    The world’s most venomous reptiles
    Provided to die 20 days after biting the leg of a bull.

    Dangerous things them bulls legs

  11. avatar Chris says:

    Unfortunately the New 7 (manmade) Wonders of the World competition is over; Sidoarjo mudflow was unplaced.

    If you believe Lapindo/Bakrie (I don’t), it was a natural disaster… they say it was due to the Yogyakarta earthquake 300km away, a couple of days before.

  12. avatar timdog says:

    Guys, this is apropos of absolutely nothing, but I’m looking at it in another browser window right now, and I felt a strange compunction to share it with you. It is kind of on the subject of “natural wonders”, and from a spot very close to Komodo.

    This is what the British Resident in Gresik, just up the road from Surabaya, experienced in April 1815 when Tambora on Sumbawa exploded:

    I woke on the morning of the 12th, after what seemed to be a very long night, and taking my watch to the lamp, found it to be half-past eight o’clock; I immediately went out, and found a cloud of ashes descending; at nine o’clock no day-light; the layer of ashes on the terrace before my door at the Kradenan measures one line in thickness; ten A. M. a faint glimmering of light cannow be perceived over-head; half-past ten, can distinguish objects fifty yards distant; eleven, A. M. breakfasted by candle-light, the birds began to chirrup as at the approach of day; half-past eleven, can discover the situation of the sun through a thick eloud of ashes; one, p. M. found the layer of ashes one line and a half thick, and measured in several places with the same results; three, p. M. the ashes have increased one-eighth of a line more; five, p. M. it is now lighter, but still I can neither read nor write without candle. In travelling through the district on the 13th, the appearances were described with very little variation from my account; and I am universally told that no one remembers, nor does their tradition record, so tremendous an eruption. Some look upon it as typical of a change, of the re-establishment of the former government; others account for it in an easy way, by reference to the superstitious notions of their legendary tales, and say that the celebrated Nyai Loroh Kidul has been marrying one of her children, on which occasion she has been firing salutes from her supernatural artillery. They call the ashes the dregs of her ammunition.’

    They actually heard the explosion in Bengkulu in Sumatra, which is well over 1000 miles from Sumbawa. It blew something like 150 cubic kilometres of material into the atmosphere. Puts the recent Merapi cough into perspective, don’t it?

  13. avatar David says:

    Fantastic story timdog, I like the sort of thoroughness which he documents the hourly changes

    by reference to the superstitious notions of their legendary tales, and say that the celebrated Nyai Loroh Kidul has been marrying one of her children, on which occasion she has been firing salutes from her supernatural artillery. They call the ashes the dregs of her ammunition.

    That’s the best explanation for it hands down; I wonder who he asked, could he speak the language, did he wander around asking people or sent someone off to gather intelligence?

  14. avatar timdog says:

    It’s great isn’t it? As for whether he could speak the language, I unfortunately don’t have a list of the Residents in East Java during the British Interregnum (I have one for Central Java), and I haven’t actually been able to find out who he was yet. If he was Dutch (and the British did keep many of the Dutch staff on, especially in less significant places) then he would almost certainly have spoken decent Malay, and possibly even Javanese himself. If he was British he might have done (John Crawfurd, who was down the road in Surabaya at the time, and had to work by candlelight for several days, was said to have mastered real Yogyakarta Javanese within six months of arriving), but if not he would have had translators (probably local Dutchmen)…

    Here’s another one, from the captain of a British ship that was in Makassar at the time. It’s long, but it’s worth reading; it comes across like a journey into the gates of hell:

    On the 5th of April, a firing of cannon was heard at Macasar, continuing at intervals all the afternoon, and apparently coming from the southward:—towards sunset the reports seemed to have approached much nearer, and sounded like heavy guns, with occasional slight reports between. Supposing it to be occasioned by
    pirates, a detachment of troops was embarked on board the Honorable Company’s cruizer Benares, and sent in search of them, but after examining the neighbouring Islands, returned to Macasar on the 8th, without having found any cause of the alarm. During the night of the 11th, the firing was again heard, but much lower, and towards morning the reports were in quick succession, sometimes like three or four guns fired together, and so heavy that they shook the ship, as they did also the houses in Fort Rotterdam. Some of them seemed so near, that I sent people to the mast-head to look out for the flashes, and weighed at day-dawn, proceeding to the southward to ascertain the cause. The morning of the 12th was extremely dark and lowering, particularly to the southward, and S.W., the wind light, and from the castward. At eight A.m. it was apparent that some extraordinary occurrence had taken place ; the face of the heavens to the southward and westward had assumed a dark aspect, and it was much darker than before the sun rose; as it came nearer it assumed a dusky red appearance, and spread fast over every part of the heavens; by ten it was so dark that a ship could hardly be seen a mile distant; by eleven the whole of the heavens were obscured, except a small space near the horizon to the eastward, the quarter from which the wind came. The ashes now began to fall in showers, and the appearance was altogether truly awful and alarming. By noon the light that had remained in the eastern part of the horizon disappeared, and complete darkness covered the face of day. This continued so profound during the remainder of the day, that I never saw any thing to equal it in the darkest night; it was impossible to see your hand when held up close to your eyes. The ashes fell without intermission throughout the night, and were so light and subtile, that notwithstanding the precaution of spreading awnings fore and aft as much as possible, they pervaded every part of the ship.

    At six o’clock the next morning it continued as dark as ever, but began to clear about half-past seven; and about eight o’clock objects could be faintly discerned upon deck. From this time it began to get lighter very fast.

    The appearance of the ship when day-light returned was most singular ; every part being covered with the falling matter: it had the appearance of calcined pumicestone, nearly the colour of wood-ashes; it lay in heaps of a foot in depth in many parts of the deck, and several tons weight of it must have been thrown overboard; for though an impalpable powder or dust when it fell, it was, when compressed, of considerable weight; a pint measure of it weighed twelve ounces and three-quarters: it was perfectly tasteless, and did not affect the eyes with painful sensation, had a faint burnt smell, but nothing like sulphur : when mixed with water it formed a tenacious mud difficult to be washed off.

    By noon of the 12th, the sun made his appearance again, but very faintly, through the dusky atmosphere ; the air being still charged with ashes, which continued to fall lightly all day.

    From the 12th to the 15th the atmosphere remained thick and dusky, the rays of the sun scarce able to penetrate through it, with little or no wind the whole time.

    On the morning of the 13th left Macasar, and on the 18th made Sambawa. On approaching the coast, passed through great quantities of pumice-stone floating on the sea, which had at first strongly the appearance of shoals, so much so that I sent a boat to examine one, which, at the distance of less than a mile, I took for a dry sand-bank, upwards of three miles in length, with black rocks in several parts of it. It proved to be a complete mass of pumice-stone floating on the sea, some inches in depth, with great numbers of trees and logs, that appeared to be burnt and shivered as if by lightning. The boat had much difficulty in pulling through it; and until we reached the entrance of Bima Bay, the sea was literally covered with shoals of pumice and floating timber.

    On the 19th arrived in Bima Bay: in coming to an anchor grounded on the bank of Bima Town, shoaling suddenly from eight fathoms; hove off again as the tide was rising. The anchorage at Bima must have altered considerably, as where we grounded the Ternatc cruizer lay at anchor in six fathoms a few months before. The shores of the bay had a most dreary appearance, being entirely covered with ashes.

    From the account of the Resident of Bima, it appears that the eruption proceeded from the Tomboro Mountain, situated about forty miles to the westward of Bima. On the night of the 11th, he represents the explosions to have been most terrific, and compares them to the report of a heavy mortar close to his ear. The darkness commenced about seven in the morning, and continued twelve hours longer than it did at Macasar. The fall of ashes was so heavy as to break the Resident’s house in many places, and render it uninhabitable, as well as many other houses in the town. The wind was still during the whole time, but the sea greatly agitated, its waves rolled in upon the shore, and filled the lower parts of the houses with water a foot deep. Every prow and boat was forced from the anchorage and driven on shore, and several large prows are now lying a considerable distance above high-water-mark.

    Sorry; I’ve kind of mangled the “seven wonders” theme now!

  15. avatar ET says:

    It seems the effects of the Tambora eruption were visible much farther than the archipelago or even the whole of Southeast Asia. They could even be noticed as far as England, inspiring the watercolor painter William Turner to the red sky paintings he became famous for.

  16. avatar David says:

    I have to step out now so will read that one later but

    and I haven’t actually been able to find out who he was yet.

    Might be Carel van Naerssen if I’m reading page 18 of this thing about the ‘Gresik Bell’ mystery right – http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/arch_0044-8613_1994_num_48_1_2997

  17. avatar timdog says:

    David, you’re an absolute star – that has literally saved me hours in the British library sometime next spring (or possibly a few minutes of on-the-off-chance googling later today – though I think you probably have alchemic google skills that far exceed my clumsy fumbling with + and “”… Either way, cheers!). A nice article too; might be worth a footnote…
    Incidentally, Gresik is where they forged the later moko drums for export to Alor, and the gongs shipped out to various places in the eastern archipelago… I haven’t read the article closely yet, so that might be mentioned anyway, but the pictures of the bells certainly show a stylistic link with heirlooms you’ll still see in Alor today…

    So he was Dutch, and time-served, so yes, he almost certainly would have spoken Malay, and most likely some Javanese too.

    ET

    They could even be noticed as far as England, inspiring the watercolor painter William Turner to the red sky paintings he became famous for.

    That’s one of the best-known stories about Tambora, but it’s of questionable veracity. The picture you show above is the Fighting Temeraire. It was painted in 1839, by which time the atmospheric effects of the volcano would have long-since faded away. Turner would certainly have seen the post-Tambora sunsets two decades earlier, and I certainly am willing to accept that he was, as you have said, “inspired” by them.
    But that specific sunset certainly wasn’t caused by an Indonesian volcano, and as someone who grew up literally a quarter-mile from the full breadth of the Western Approaches, I can confirm that sunsets in the UK are generally pretty fiery anyway (whenever it’s not raining 😉 ) They certainly p*ss all over the “all over in a minute” tropical affairs…

  18. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Timdog you wrote:

    “personally I find the beasts a little dull (I mean, they don’t do anything; they just lie there),”

    They seemed to be fairly active when the late Steve Irwin was near them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GljZY7pellI

    But Steve didn’t shy away from a bit of ballyhoo.

  19. avatar Arie Brand says:

    ET wrote:

    “It seems the effects of the Tambora eruption were visible much farther than the archipelago or even the whole of Southeast Asia”

    Yes, the temporary climate change it induced seems to have led to failed harvests in many parts of the world, and in some places to a regular famine. The ashes in the atmosphere led to unusually heavy rainfall in Europe in 1815 and some people maintain that this contributed to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. His artillery had got stuck in the mud and could not be brought up in time.

    “The battle betwee n Napoleon’s forces, which included 72,000 troops, and a combined Allied army of 113,000 British, Dutch, Belgian, and Prussian troops was fought so hard that either side might have won. A heavy rain the evening before the battle forced Napoleon to delay his attack. The delay cost him the battle.”

  20. avatar ET says:

    I suppose this must be William Turner’s artist rendition of the Tambora eruption itself.

  21. avatar timdog says:

    Nah, that’s an imagining of Vesuvius errupting. However, it was painted in 1817, so was almost without doubt directly inspired by Tambora – the previous year had been the so-called “Year without Summer”…

    Arie, I’d never heard the theory that Tambora had caused the rain at Waterloo. It’s a nice one, seeing as at the time of the Tambora erruption Raffles in Java was fervently praying that war would continue forever in Europe so he could continue running amok in Java…
    However, I’m doubtful. Waterloo was, what? Two months after Tambora? I’m not sure if that would have been time enough for it to have started affecting weather in Europe…

    The radically altered climate patterns in the northern hemisphere were the following year. There was snow in New England in July, frost in Old England in June, the grapes withered on the vines in France, the potatoes never grew in Ireland, and in Switzerland they were reduced to eating cats. The monsoons failed in India too, and there’s a theory that a subsequent global cholera outbreak was greatly exacerbated by Tabora’s effects…

  22. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Timdog

    See John Tarttelin,” Napoleon The Tambora Eruption and Waterloo”

    http://www.napoleonicsociety.com/english/tarttelin15a.htm

    Tarttelin claims that the Tambora, before the big eruption of 1815, had already started working in 1812 and also caused the severe winter of 1813 which led to Napoleon’s undoing in the Russian campaign – the heavy rains in the summer of 1815 that led to his delay at Waterloo and the opportunity for the Prussians to come to the aid of Wellington were according to him probably also due to Tambora – but he admits that further study is required.

    Well, it is certainly not a mainstream theory.

  23. avatar Arie Brand says:

    This must obviously be the severe winter of 1812 – the year of the Russian campaign.

  24. avatar timdog says:

    Arie,
    I love his purple prose – “As if the god Vulcan was juggling with the plates of the earth, molten magma seethed and rolled beneath the buckling crust of Sumbawa” Good grief! – but I don’t think I’m buying his theory.

    Local reports do indeed state that activity at the mountain started in 1812, and John Crawfurd sailed by in 1814 and reported smoke coming out of the crater. But at any time there’s several volcanoes doing a similar thing somewhere in Indonesia. There’s one still seeping a bit of smoke after its recent tantrum about 20kms from where I’m sitting right now…
    Any pre-1815 weather oddities up north were probably el Nino/la Nina cycles rather than volcanic ash, I’d say.

    But anyway, this Tarttelin guy certainly enjoyed himself with the idea…

  25. avatar JenHopkins says:

    komodo dragons are a endangred species. This should be taken care off and protected.

  26. avatar Gildo Kaldorana says:

    Nice place. Kalau saya ada waktu pasti mau pergi kesana, ada yang bilang tempat bagus.
    Salam dari Barcelona

  27. avatar Chris says:

    Hi,

    Just read the interesting conversation about Tambora a little late.

    It blew something like 150 cubic kilometres of material into the atmosphere. Puts the recent Merapi cough into perspective, don’t it?

    Simon Winchester in his book “Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded”
    Krakatoa
    points out that the 1815 eruption of Mt Tambora:

    – ejected twice as much material as Krakatoa.

    – didn’t just kill 50 000 people but also the Tambora language/culture. (Buried villages were only unearthed by archaeologists in 2004).

    – reduced world temperatures by 1 degree Celsius.

    – 1816 was the “year without summer” in New England, USA.

    – the German wheap crop failed, doubling prices of flour.

    – may have helped inspire the book “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley and Byron’s “Darkness”.

    Morn came and went
    and came, and brought no day

  28. avatar timdog says:

    ejected twice as much material as Krakatoa.

    Make that almost TEN TIMES as much! Krakatau spat out 18 cubic kilometres of stuff; Tambora managed 150 c/kms (some sources quote significantly more).

    It also is thought to have killed significantly more than 50,000 people. Around 10,000 are thought to have died in the initial eruption, followed by something like 37,000 in the immediate aftermath on Sumbawa itself (and a similar number fled, often selling themselves as slaves, just to get out). But the highest death tolls were probably over the next two years in Lombok and Bali due to famine caused by the destruction of the rice lands. Obviously it’s hard to work out exactly how many died in the secondary stages, but a total figure of around 100,000 seems to get some credit…

  29. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Timdog,

    I don’t know the official answer; I am just reporting what my source says: 11 cubic miles (Tambora) v 6 (Krakatau).

  30. avatar timdog says:

    Chris,
    I don’t think anyone knows precisely how much came out of either, but in all the serious stuff I’ve been looking at in the last few weeks a figure of around 150 cubic kms seems to be accepted as a reasonable ballpark figure for Tambora, while Krakatau is in the 18 c/km region.

    volcanoes

    I suppose old Simon Winchester might have been inclined to plump for the lowest possible estimate he could find for Tambora; I mean, he wanted to make out that it was big, but perhaps he felt disinclined to make clear just how much bigger than his own personal pimple on the face of the planet was 😉 Writers do that kind of thing; they’re weird…

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