Tue, 9 Apr, 2019
No tourists allowed: Komodo Island implements tourist ban
The Indonesian island inhabited by endangered Komodo dragons will be closed to tourists starting 2020 following reports of rampant smuggling of the lizards.
According to Tempo, the government will close the Komodo National Island indefinitely starting January next year, with the reopening date still pending.
The announcement came after authorities busted a smuggling ring which had sold 41 Komodo dragons abroad for up to Rp500 million (AU$49,570) each.
Spokesman for the East Nusa Tenggara government Marius Jelamu said authorities will focus on conservation efforts during the closure, including examining the lizards’ food supply and preserving the island’s natural environment.
The closure will only apply to the Komodo National Park, meaning that visitors may still see Komodo dragons at other conservation areas such as Flores, Rinca and Gili Motong islands.
According to the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), there are approximately 6,000 Komodo dragons left on earth, most of which are concentrated on the island. In 1991, the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the giant lizard population.
This is not the first time that a popular tourist destination had to be shut down for conservation purposes. The famous Maya Bay in Thailand has been off-limits to tourists since June last year due to extensive environmental damage from tourists and boats. The Guardian reported that 80 per cent of the coral around the bay, which was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film The Beach, has been destroyed.