January 7, 2021
Dragons of the Daintree
- as seen by -Andrew Kathriner
When people refer to a living dragon, the first thing that comes to mind is the iconic Komodo dragon from Indonesia or the bearded dragon from the deserts of Australia. However, the enigmatic Boyd’s forest dragon (Lophosaurus boydii) is a beautiful lizard species which few have ever seen or heard of and can only be found in the tropical rainforests of Queensland, Australia.
Unlike the vast grasslands and the great red desert of Australia, Queensland, the most northeastern region, is green and lush and experiences the most amount of rainfall on the continent. Much of Queensland is pristine habitat that, unfortunately, has been impacted by the historically high levels of ravaging wild fires. Similar to what the United States experienced this year, these fires are ever expanding and have become worse over time due to human-driven climate change. This year’s wildfires and lock downs due to COVID-19 allowed me to reflect and appreciate my time spent in Australia last year.
My journey to observe the unique fauna of Australia brought me to Cape Tribulation, the only place on earth where two UNESCO World Heritage sites border each other – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Park. With just eight days to explore the continent, I had a lengthy list of species I sought to observe as well as scenic views to appreciate. After two days of scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, I rented a car from Cairns and headed north to hike Daintree National Park.
I had my sights set on finding the Boyd’s forest dragon. This beautiful lizard can be found hugging tree trunks (above) or moving about the forest floor. Males of this species can display beautiful blue, green, and orange hues on their scales and have unique ornamental crests. The day was cool and cloudy, not the most ideal conditions for finding reptiles, but after a few hours of searching high and low, I was able to spot one forest dragon.
After spending an hour photographing and observing, we parted ways, and I continued on my journey to search for other wonders of Australia.