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RE: Dragon's Paradise Lost - re-planting KD's in Oz

Introducing Komodo Dragons to Australia has been suggested before, e.g. by
Tim Flannery (I think as long ago as 1994 in The Future Eaters), as a way of
filling the vacant top-predator role of Varanus priscus (and terrestrial
crocodiles etc.). The new paper shows that V. komodoensis itself (or
something as close as makes no difference) did used to inhabit the mainland,
so it is in fact native to Australia, rather than being a substitute for
something else.

Comparable examples: There's an endangered predator on an offshore island,
and it's either almost certainly extinct in the wild (cf. Thylacinus [I'm
not saying I think there are living Tassie Tigers, just using the example])
or threatened by disease due to inbreeding (Sarcophilus). It's known that it
occurred on the vastly larger mainland in the fairly recent past,
disappearing for reasons unknown. Purely from a conservation point of view,
is it a good idea to attempt to reestablish populations in the larger area,
or at least in selected reserves? My gut says: absolutely. 

Bring 'em on. There's vast amounts of roadkill that goes to waste all across
northern Australia, but if they want fresh meat they can live on water
buffalo, gaur and pigs at first, we'll wean them onto a native diet if they
behave themselves. 

I wonder how they handle toads? With smaller goannas, we often see local
near-extinction followed by slow recovery after Cane toads
(Bufo/Chaunus/Rhinella marinus) arrive. These toads are presently in Timor,
I wonder how long till they get to Flores and Komodo? Like Sarcophilus, if
we don't find them a home on a much bigger island the dragons may be

And yes, I fully understand that lizards may bite people. But we already
have large goannas in Australia, and they never kill ANYONE. We have an
international reputation to maintain, and our lizards are simply NOT DEADLY

Dr John D. Scanlon, FCD
Riversleigh Fossil Centre, Outback at Isa
"Get this $%#@* python off me!", said Tom laocoonically.

-----Original Message-----
From: B tH [mailto:soylentgreenistrex@yahoo.com] 
Sent: 30 September, 2009 9:27 PM
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Dragon's Paradise Lost - re-planting KD's in Oz

What are the chances they'd establish themselves
if re-introduced in the outback?
They just might drastically reduce the alien
introductions of cats and rabbits.   :-)