Monitor lizard

BOGOR, Indonesia -- Indonesia is the home of the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), which is the largest species of lizard in the world. The Komodo dragon is a monitor lizard, and the species has many cousins throughout the Pacific and Asia. Here is one, I believe the water monitor (Varanus salvator), from along a bank of the river that runs through the Bogor Botanical Gardens.

Monitor lizard

From my field notebook

Friday, March 15, 1996:

Indonesia: Java: Bogor: It is definitely the rainy season here in Bogor! I thought it rained hard yesterday, but now (at 1600 hrs) it's really pouring! I walked around the botanical garden a bit today. I met an older woman whose husband was the Swiss ambassador to Indonesia during the Soekarno era. She had always wanted to visit the temple complex at Borobodur, but back then it was dangerous for westerners to travel the countryside. Well she decided to do it now! She was fascinating, which is the way she described Soekarno. She said he was brilliant, fluent in several languages, but somehow lost his way. She spoke of him with sadness. She is also saddened by the destruction of natural lands, especially the rain forest. She talked about her dogs, one a spaniel she had while here in Indonesia who always found out that the large [aquatic] plants similar to lilypads could not support its weight the way. The dog would test the leaf with one paw, find it OK, then jump on with all four and emerge wet, muddy and confused. She has frogs in her garden in Switzerland, and she says she talks to them and tells them stories while they sit captivated. She likes to talk to plants and animals, usually to tell them that she appreciates their being here. We left the park together. I bought her a water, which she appreciated, and we talked some more before I left. I should have asked her name, but didn't. She'll always remain a mystery, as she should. . .

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