Flores island is known for its Komodo and Komodo National Park, but do you know that some other magnificent animals also inhabited there? Let’s discuss those animals so it will give all of us more insight and knowledge about Labuan Bajo and all the magnificent animals that live there!
First magnificent animals of Labuan Bajo are Komodo dragons. For millions of years, Komodo dragons have survived in the hostile environment of Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands. Komodo migrated from Australia to eastern archipelago of Indonesia around 900.000 years ago.
Endemic to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang, Komodo can be found all across the islands. A United States journal and research page called The Smithsonian, suspects that the Komodo dragon is descended from dinosaurs. This statement is not mere nonsense, paleontologists and scientists have found many similarities in DNA in the bodies of dinosaurs and Komodo dragons.
The Komodo dragon, also known as the Komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis), is a species of monitor lizard that is exclusive to the Indonesian islands of Komodo. These apex predator reptiles may run up to seven kilometers each day. However, these magnificent animals prefer to stay close to home and rarely leave the valleys where they were hatched. Being the largest reptiles on Earth, Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 feet long (3 meters) and weigh more than 300 pounds (70 kilograms). They feature bowed legs, scaly skin, long, flat heads with rounded snouts, and huge, muscular tails.
As apex predators, Komodo dragons dominate their ecosystem and hunt those around them, from invertebrates, birds to mammals. Having two glands in their lower jaw which secrete toxic protein, Komodo have a venomous bite thus it is always advised to be careful around them since they also occasionally attack humans.
Komodo is really good at camouflage which makes it beneficial for them in hunting their prey. Komodo usually lie down while waiting for their prey to come closer around them, and thus will use their claws and sharp teeth to pounce. Not only that, komodo also has a really sharp sense of smell, which in some cases they will hunt their prey no matter how far it goes.
Female komodo enters their mating season when they are around 6-7 years old, and for the male komodo is around 9-10 years old. During the mate season which happens once a year, Female Komodo dragons will release a scent in their excrement for male Komodo dragons to follow.
A male dragon will lick and scratch the female’s back, which thus they can mate if she licks him back. Male komodo will also occasionally engage in a fight with another male komodo to win over the female komodo. About 30 eggs are laid and buried in the ground once the female komodos become pregnant, those eggs will hatch eight months later.
Nevertheless, female Komodo dragons also have alternative methods of reproduction when there aren’t any males komodo around: In a process known as parthenogenesis, female dragons can spawn asexually since they carry both male and female sex chromosomes.
Second magnificent animals of Labuan Bajo are manta rays. Manta rays (Manta birostris) is one of the largest stingray species to ever exist in this world. The width of the body from the tip of the pectoral fin to the tip of the other fin reaches almost 6-8 meters (possibly more because there are reports that there are mantas whose body width reaches 9.1 meters).
The heaviest manta ever measured weighs about 3 tons. Unlike the other rays, Manta rays are also not poisonous rays, their tails do not have a sting like most other rays. Basically Manta is quite a friendly fish, it will swim calmly even though there are humans around them. However, if disturbed, these magnificent animals can attack and be dangerous considering their size is quite large.
Cruising throughout the archipelago of Indonesia, Manta rays are one those creatures that are quite hard to see, thus the opportunity to see them in the wild ocean is one of the most powerful things to experience. These magnificent animals are such a playful and smart creature. Its wide distribution and unique appearance cause this fish to have many names from “Pacific manta”, “Atlantic manta”, “devil fish”, even to the “sea devil”.
In Indonesia itself, manta rays have various local names such as Cawang necklace, Plampangan, and Buffalo rays (perhaps because the body part resembles a horn on its head so it is considered similar to a buffalo). Manta rays spend most of their time in a constant motion since they can only breathe through swimming. The ray family themselves has more than 11 species, including mobula rays, which occasionally mistaken for manta rays due to their morphological resemblance.
Cephalic fins, which are present on both the manta and mobula species, are fins that direct plankton-rich water into their mouths. This characteristic led to the title “devil rays” which was unfair given their mild nature. Fun fact about Manta is that their gills are on the bottom of their bodies which function to obtain oxygen for breathing, which is different from most fish whose gills are usually found on the side of their body.
There are two species of Manta which are, Manta Birostris and Manta Alfredi. Manta Birostris is the scientific name for the enormous ocean manta, meanwhile Manta Alfredi is the name for the reef manta.
Researchers estimate that about 300,000 years ago, the evolutionary break between the two species, when oceanic rays went into the open waters and reef mantas remained more closely associated with coral.
The oceanic, or “giant manta,” rays may grow up to 7 meters (23 feet) wide and weigh up to 2,000 kilograms, making them far bigger than reef mantas (4,450 lbs). On the other hand, small reef manta rays can grow to be astonishingly large, with a wingspan of up to 4.5 m (15 ft). These manta rays weigh up to 1,400 kg. Both of those species are found around Komodo National Park, Raja Ampat, Bali, and remote Indonesian islands.
Third magnificent animals of Labuan Bajo are bats. Bats are members of the Chiroptera and belong to the Pteropodidae family, the sole family in the Megachiroptera suborder. The genus Pteropus is the only member of this family. Despite the fact that not all bats are bats, the word “bats” is frequently used in place of the word “bats” in common speech.
Kalong itself mainly refers to large fruit-eating bats The Kapauk bat, Pteropus Vampyrus, which has a wingspan of up to 1,700 mm and a weight of up to 1,500 grams, is both the largest fruit bat and the largest bat. In English, bats are known as Giant Fruit Bats or Flying Foxes. The distribution of bats includes islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia, Indonesia, the islands off the east coast of Africa (but not on mainland of the continent), and tropical and subtropical Asia (including the Indian subcontinent).
Bats are the only mammals that can fly. As mammals, just like humans, these magnificent animals are warm-blooded vertebrates. Their two front legs develop into wings. As the current records, there are at least about 1400 species with various sizes, though they may look all the same. The smallest bat is a bumblebee, which is also considered as the smallest animal in the world.
In Kalong island, the habitat of millions of giant bats or bats, you can see thousands of flocks of bats that will fly to welcome the evening sky. Around 6 pm local time, when the dusk begins to show and the sky slightly faded to orange color, it is time for the flock of bats to come out of their nests. They will fly in huge numbers to amaze the tourists. Initially only dozens, but then turned into thousands of flocks of bats. Besides watching thousands of these magnificent animals, you will also be spoiled with views of the mesmerizing sea of Flores with savanna hills along the way.
So, after reading this, have you decided to start your journey to discover Labuan Bajo and meet all these magnificent animals mentioned above? If you haven’t you should definitely consider it, because we promise you it won’t disappoint you!
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