In ancient China the dragon interacted with humans and brought them great
gifts of enlightenment and knowledge. The yellow dragon brought the gift
of writing to the Emperor Fu Shi. Their prevalence can be noted by their
inclusion in the Chinese Zodiac along with the rabbit, dog, rooster, boar,
ox, horse, tiger, rat, snake, ram, and monkey. All of these animals are
prevalent today except for the tiger and the dragon. While the tiger is
endangered, it can still easily be found, but dragons are extremely elusive
and rare. The reasons for the dramatic decline of the Oriental and Chinese
dragon are quite apparent. The centipede used to be the Eastern Dragon's
one known enemy. Although only two inches long, it could destroy the biggest
dragon by walking up its nose, into its head, and feasting on its brain.
Although this was a terrible loss, it used to happen to dragons too old
to mate. Enough babies matured to maintain an adequate breeding population.
A Dragon was eaten by the Emperor Chi Fu. He told historians that he gained
such vast amounts of knowledge, that he created a huge demand for the dragon's
brain. Healers extolled the blood of the dragon as a great curative. The
dragon was said to have a valuable jewel under his chin worth the riches
of an empire. Almost every part of the dragon was valued, thus making it
very profitable to sell it piecemeal. Soon poachers and hunters from all
over the world came to cash in on this valuable and easily obtained commodity.
The dragons were very trusting because the people had always held them
in such high esteem. These unscrupulous men ignored the laws passed by
the Emperor and the other rulers.
The problem was acerbated by the long maturation time before a dragon was
sexually mature. Many dragons were exterminated before they were old enough
to mature. The eggs are also highly prized and very valuable. Eggs were
taken and radiated to kill its occupant and then they were sold to artists
so that they could produce large decorated eggs. Now, dragons are very
reclusive and it is not only difficult to ever see a dragon, but to even
know a person who has seen a dragon. It is to be hoped that with the establishment
of sanctuaries and the passage of laws giving strong penalties for dragon
killing, dragons will be able to reestablish themselves in their ecological
niches and build up their population.