Komodo Island might be closing to tourists because humans can't have nice things

2019-04-10 10:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Humans can be terrible sometimes, especially to those we share a planet with.

And the Komodo dragon knows this too well.

Government officials in Indonesia are considering a proposal to close the world-famous Komodo Island - endemic home to the biggest lizard in the world - for a year after a smuggling ring in East Java was busted with 41 Komodo dragons ready to be sold overseas. According to The Jakarta Post, the syndicate was selling the lizards for RP 500 million (about R497 350 at RP 1 005,32/R) per animal.

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Although there are roughly 6 000 Komodo dragons left in the world, there is a severe lack of fertile females, with only 350 breeding pairs left, making them extremely vulnerable to extinction.

They can only be found on a few islands in Indonesia, and have fallen prey to habitat destruction, sport hunting and lack of food, which have contributed to their dwindling numbers.

The proposal was put forward by the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government and is currently under review by Indonesia's Forestry and Environment Ministry, the national science institute, conservation groups and the tourism association, reports Straits Times

The decision is expected to be made by the middle of the year, and if it goes through the island will be closed off from January 2020. The closure however will only affect the island and not the rest of Komodo National Park. 

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During that time the local government would be able to rehabilitate sections of the island, like planting more trees and increasing the dragons' access to food.

Another potential change is to limit visitors to the island to 5 000 per month, halving its current numbers, and charging visitors $500 (about R7 027 at R14,05/$) to visit the island, a huge jump from its current price of RP 150 000 (about R150).

So if you're planning a trip to Indonesia next year, make sure to keep up to date with what's happening with one of its biggest tourist attractions to avoid disappointment.

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