Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology

Drawing of the kawuk (© AThrillosopher, Used with Permission).

Category Neodinosaur
Proposed scientific names
Other names
Country reported Indonesia (Java)
First reported 1977[1]
Prominent investigators • B. O. Nainggolan

The kawuk is a neodinosaurian cryptid reported from the small Indonesian island of Nusa Kambangan, off the southern coast of Java. It supposedly resembles a very large monitor lizard similar to the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), but is predominately bipedal.[2][3]


Defined by dictionaries merely as a "giant lizard,"[4] the alleged existence of the kawuk was first widely reported in the Indonesian press, which referred to it as a "mini dinosaur," in August 1977.[1] Descriptions and occasional sightings have since appeared only sporadically in the media, but in 2014, a Nusa Kambangan fisherman and tour guide named Heri told the Indonesian news network Merdeka that a pack of ten kawuks had attempted to devour the corpse of a recently-deceased friend at nightfall.[2]


Komodo dragon standing

Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis) are capable of standing upright, but only for a limited time (iStock).

The kawuk reportedly closely resembles a monitor lizard, but is larger than even the Komodo dragon, and, unlike the habitually-quadrupedal monitors, is an obligate biped. It is a carnivore and a scavenger, finding food with its powerful sense of smell, and will allegedly attack and even prey upon humans.[2]


In 1977, B. O. Nainggolan of the Indonesian Animal Lovers Association spent some months on Nusa Kambangan researching the kawuk, and eventually came to the conclusion that it was a species of large monitor lizard (Varanus sp.) resembling the Komodo dragon, but with "slightly different legs."[1]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "News in Brief," Indonesian News and Views (August 1977)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Sumandoyo, Arbi & Aprillatu, Pramirvan Datu "Kawuk Pemakan Mayat," Merdeka (5 November 2014) – Online
  3. Sushmita, Chelin Indra "Misteri Kawuk dan Penjaga Lapas Nusakambangan," Banyumaskita (5 January 2022) – Online
  4. Stevens, Alan M. (2004) A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary