The uniqueness of Pota Komodo relies on it’s skin colour and figure. The skin has lighter colour and it’s dominated by brown and golden yellow colour. Its figure is slimmer, although the length of body is the same as Komodo Island and Rinca Island, which is bigger and dark brown scales.
Pota Komodo or known as Rughu in local language is in serious problem. The population is under the thread of extinction due to some factor that affect its development. Some of the factor are limited source of food, illegal hunting, and land convertion into agricultural land. If don’t pay serious attention on this issue, soon or later Pota Komodo will be extinct.
A number of serious threads to the population have been found. First, food supply on their habitat becomes limited due to illegal hunting to Komodo’s preys like boar, monkey and deer. The second factor is frequent burning of peatlands and shrubs in Komodo’s habitat so that many of them burned to death. The third factor is land conversion and plantation or settlement. The fourth is disturbance to their environment due to the presence of Trans-Flores road in north, which devides the forest. Several Komodo died after being hit by car or motorbike.
It is important to know that area around the habitat of Rughu consist of plantation and people’s settlement. In order to protect their plantation, local people put trap to catch boar or monkey which often disturb their plants. Therefore, foot supply for Rughu becomes very limited. Sometimes, animals trapped are not boar or monkey, it is Komodo instead. People often see Rughu go to seaside looking for turtle eggs buried under the sand in order to survive. No wonder, Rughu often come to village and eat the livestock belong to the villagers to be able to survive. As a consequence, the pre-historic animal is often caught and even worse, died at the tip of villagers lance.
A call to save the population this pre-historic lizard has made the local government of East Manggatai Regency focus their attention on doing various strategic actions and comprehensive approach. One of them by conducting analysis to save the habitat of Rughu. In addition, they also actively perform socialization and spread information to preserve the ecosystem including wild animals that become Komodo’s prey so that the population of Rughu and its prey can be maintained. The next step is making Rughu into one of tourist attractions in order to encourage every person and community to protect and save the population.
The population of Rughu is spread in four areas or villages, namely Nanga Baras, Nanga Mbaling, Nanga Mbaur and Nampar Sepang. The four point of population are located around Pota of Sambi Rampas District. The biggest population of Rughu can be found in forest area around Watu Pajung beach in Nanga Mbaur.
How come the population of Rughu is Watu Pajung bigger then other three areas? It is because this area has unspoiled savannah and intact ecosystem with combination of rocky slope, rocky cave, forest, bushes, beach area, swamp and small lake called the lake of Rughu since it is the place where Rughu looking for drink. Rocky cave become comfortable place for them to lay eggs and rest.
Since the publication of Rughu spread widely, people’s curiosity towards the species is increasing. They are environmental activists, foreign tourists and scientists. Although people are more familiar with Komodo in the Island of Komodo and Rinca, which have been included in the list of the Worlds Seven Wonders, but Pota Komodo cannot be ignored and extinct.
Caludio Ciofi, a researcher from USA came to do research on existence of Rughu. There are six Rughus caught to be used as research sample. Basesd on the result of the research, Caudio releases a quite suprising recommendation. First, based on the blood and genetic test, he found out that the DNA, body structure and life charasterictic of Rughu is identical to Komodo in Komodo Island and Rinca. Second, based on that finding, the origin of Rughu can be traced. They are result of spread of Komodo from Komodo and Rinca Island million years ago. In the period of Pleistocene, Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Timor up to Australia were located on the same land. This is supported by the data, which mentions that 8 million years old Komodo fossil is found in North Australia. Pota is a quite strategic area for Komodo habitat considering the climate, natural environment and ecosystem which are very similar to the condition in Komodo Island and Rinca.
The research result olso concluded that the changing of colour on the skin and body size of Rughu is affect by the food consumed, environmental condition and survival skills. Rughu is more persistent in fighting for food due to the limited stock of food and large area. This is different from the condition of habitat in Komodo Island and Rinca. Komodo in those places have bigger body because there is abundant source of food and the hunting area is smaller.
The nature of Komodo is susceptible to extinction. It can happen if the habitat or ecosystem is disturbed. Tho local government considers Komodo of Pota as asset that can bring adventages to the area and community as well. At this poit, there is no other choice but real action to save Rughu and its habitat.
Rughu belongs to us, future asset that should be protected. It is our responsibility to protect it. Let’s Save Komodo of Pota.
Source: Tourism Highlights of East Manggarai Regency, Flores, Indonesia.