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The lady at Jakarta’s Ministry of Information took off her glasses and smiled at us. ‘And why do you want this permit?’ she asked.
‘We are from England,’ I explained. ‘And we have come to make a film. We hope to travel through Java, Bali, Borneo and eventually to the island of Komodo, photographing and collecting animals.’ The smile that had spread across her face at the word ‘film’ faded as I mentioned ‘travel’, and disappeared completely when I said the words ‘collecting animals’.
Lady - Papers - Half - Week - Years
The lady picked up the papers she had just stamped for us and tore them in half. ‘I think we will start again,’ she said. ‘Come back in a week.’ Sixty years ago, in the summer of 1957, I set out for Indonesia with my cameraman friend Charles Lagus on what would prove to be one of the most difficult and challenging expeditions of my life.
With the rashness of relative youth — he was 29, I was 31 — we made almost no preparations, a decision we would later regret. But our mission was clear in our minds — to observe and record as much of Indonesia’s abundant wildlife as possible, and, our greatest challenge, to capture on film, for the first time, the largest and most dangerous lizard on the planet: the Komodo dragon.
Rumours - Beast - Ft - Prey - Swing
Rumours of this ferocious beast, which can grow to more than 10 ft long and kill its prey with one swing of its huge, muscular tail, existed for centuries. Fishermen sailing near the remote island of Komodo brought back tales of a vast, dragon-like creature with enormous claws, fearsome teeth, a heavily armoured body and a fiery yellow tongue.
A Dutch expedition in 1910 confirmed the stories were indeed true. Subsequent explorations discovered that the creature was carnivorous and lived nowhere else in the world....
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