My journey in India began in the south. Traveling from an African land where prehistoric giants are falling and extinction is irking, I journeyed towards the Western Ghats, a magical place which is home to some of India’s most diverse wildlife. During a King Cobra and Scorpion film expedition I witnessed my first prehistoric flight. As I entered the rainforest the tall and noble trees circling around me immediately caught my eye. These colossal forts are home to an ancient force. The movement within these trees is spirited and bizarre with a saffron aura. It belongs to the Draco dussumieri, the southern flying lizard. The moment you meet a Draco is the moment you greet a dragon. The study of dragons has always been furtive to humans; capturing the Draco’s character on film is no different. There are slight behavioral signs that hint at the moment the flying dragon will take its cue, and to capture the direction and the speed is a whole new equation.
Once zooming in on the Draco you can’t resist focusing on its chipped wooden formed scales that are perfect for camouflage until a moment of flight, territorial battle or the courtship display begins. Over thousands of years the dangers lurking beneath caused the Draco to leave the ground and develop the capacity for flight, except for when females have to descend to deposit eggs.
Observing these dragons is never dull; there are always moments of colour, speed, grace and thrill. The flying dragon takes stage in signs of threats, often in the form of a common vine snake, while surrounding creatures watch in anticipation for the moment of flight or plight. Both the Draco and the vine snake are arboreal creatures; their bodies are made to explore and hide in the world of trees.
Thus the cat and mouse game between these two reptilia is never certain and they both closely observe one another in the main fire. Even though the Draco seems small and incurious to the meddlesome vine snake, and soon to be lunch, the steps that follow illustrate a different time, a time of prehistoric magic. As the vine snake finally strikes, a two-step process concludes the hunt. The snake creeps where the flying dragon expands its wings in a spherical motion of yellow dots and black lines, and then leaps and glides majestically out of its colossal fort to escape what would have been no doubt an abysmal death.
This is surely a sight fit for the kings below.