Komodo Dragons have a hard life until they're 4 or 5 years old, but since then, they can live as the strongest predators mainly in that island.
These reptiles can weigh up to around 90 kilograms and grow up to 3.0 meters; they have a tail as long as the body, short but strong arms and legs, and about 60 serrated teeth that can measure up to about 2.5 centimeters.
Their bite, it was discovered not long ago, is lethal for any of their preys but only because of the venom glands that they use just like some Snakes and other Lizards.
Once upon a time, a princess of the world of spirits lived on Komodo Island. Her name was Epa or Dragon Princess. She was married to a human named Majo.
By tradition of the village, childbirth should not be through the normal process but through a 'surgery operation' by using the blade of bamboo skin by a midwife.
She conceived and gave birth to an egg she kept in a cave. A Komodo Dragon hatched out of the egg and was given the name Ora. A child, Gerong, was born at the same time.
When they were kids, the twins lived peacefully under the care of their parents.
But, as time went by, Ora was growing up and slowly showed her aggressive and malignant characters. Her appetite also changed. She did not want any longer to eat ‘rampi’, a rice dish made of the fruits of cabbage palm tree that was then the staple food of people on Komodo Island. Instead, she started to prey cattle of the local villagers.
The villagers could not accept Ora’s behavior. They finally agreed to cast her out of the village. Ora went away and lived in the jungle. Despite being in exile, Ora still visits her hometown once in a while to see her twin brother Gerong.
The story continued. It was told that Gerong as a youth often hunted Deer in the jungle. One day, when he was about to take a Deer he had killed, a big Lizard appeared from the bush and ate his Deer. Taken by surprise, Gerong immediately grabbed his spear to kill the giant Lizard. But suddenly, her mother, Dragon Princess came, preventing Gerong from killing the Lizard. She told him that the Lizard was Ora, Gerong’s sibling. Gerong calmed down and behaved kindly toward Ora.
Locals on Komodo Island believe the story above dates back to time immemorial.
Based on it, the residents of Komodo Island believe that they are the descendants of Gerong, while the Komodo Dragons living also on the island are those of Ora. That is why local people can live peacefully together with these animals and treat them humanely. They have emotional ties.
They feed aged Komodos who are no longer capable of stalking prey, while the youngsters are free to chase Deer and other animals in the forest.
For a similar reason, most of rangers at the Komodo National Park have been recruited from the native tribe of the island, Ata Modo. There is a myth that the tribe can communicate with the ancient Dragon.
The cave where Ora is said to have hatched is called Loang Atawini. There, the grave of Majo is also highly venerated. The Dragon Princess herself has no burial place, because locals feel certain that she is immortal and comes back when necessary to protect the island.
Until now, the relationship between Komodo Dragons and locals still feels intimate and emotionally very close to them.
Such a familiar feeling like this is almost perceived by outsiders or people who visited the village.
Komodo Dragons can come in and roam freely in the village and sleep under villagers’ traditional, house on stilts without being disturbed by the hustle and bustle of the local residents. Locals also never feel disturbed or concerned of the existence of the ancient animal in their midst.
Considered the original inhabitants of Komodo, for them Dragons are ancestors.
Even to show respect to their ancestor, Ata Modo people hold a special ritual every year called ‘aru gele’, a traditional ceremony of pounding the fruits of cabbage palm tree. The rite was a symbol in a memory of the parents of Ora and Gerong who fed their children with cabbage palm fruits a long time ago.