S'porean tourist bitten by Komodo dragon was trying to snap photos

Avid photographer Loh Lee Aik was taking photos when a large lizard appeared and bit him on the calf. He hopped back to the village 200m away and had his wound stitched without anaesthesia.
Avid photographer Loh Lee Aik was taking photos when a large lizard appeared and bit him on the calf. He hopped back to the village 200m away and had his wound stitched without anaesthesia.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

He was just trying to get a good picture of a Komodo dragon when he ventured out on his own one morning to look for them, said the Singaporean who made headlines earlier this month when he was bitten by one of the giant lizards in Indonesia.

"It took less than a second, and I only saw its shadow," Mr Loh Lee Aik, 68, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, adding that the wound on his left calf needed 43 stitches.

Mr Loh, an avid photographer, said he went searching for the giant lizards on Komodo Island, east of Java, after being shown some "lifeless" ones by a tour guide.

On May 2, a tour guide took him to see some of the lizards, but they were fed regularly and used to humans. As he went back to his lodging, he came across a wild Komodo dragon that was chewing on a goat. But it ran away before he could whip out his camera.

Disappointed, Mr Loh got up early the next morning to seek out the animals, but did not see any. He then climbed up a hill to get a few shots of the scenery.

"I was a little worried that there would be Komodo dragons on the hunt nearby. But the grass was not long, and I thought they would not be hard to detect."

Avid photographer Loh Lee Aik was taking photos when a large lizard appeared and bit him on the calf. He hopped back to the village 200m away and had his wound stitched without anaesthesia.
Avid photographer Loh Lee Aik was taking photos when a large lizard appeared and bit him on the calf. He hopped back to the village 200m away and had his wound stitched without anaesthesia. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

CAUGHT UNAWARES

I was a little worried that there would be Komodo dragons on the hunt nearby. But the grass was not long, and I thought they would not be hard to detect.

MR LOH LEE AIK

However, while he was taking photos, a large lizard suddenly appeared and bit his calf. Blood gushed from his left leg as he hopped back to the village, about 200m away.

There was no doctor, so the villagers took him to the village midwife, who washed the wound and sewed it up without any anaesthesia.

Mr Loh said he was treated at a hospital on neighbouring Flores island, where he was on antibiotics for three days before he was discharged.

He said he did not think it was a big deal and did not expect all the attention, but many people went to the hospital to interview him and take his photo.

Indonesian news website Merdeka.com reported that between 1974 and 2012, Komodo dragons were reported to have bitten 30 people - five of whom died.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'S'porean tourist bitten by Komodo dragon was trying to snap photos'. Print Edition | Subscribe