Indonesian authorities are planning to put in place a ban on visitors to the famous Komodo Island on the island of Manggarai Barat in an effort to curb trafficking and boosting komodo dragon numbers.
Komodo dragons are large lizards found exclusively in south East Asia particularly in areas to the east of Indonesia. They can grow to be up to 3 metres long and can sometimes way anywhere between 70-150 Kg making them easily the largest lizards on earth. There are currently believed to be about 5700 Komodo lizards left in the world 1700 of which are on Komodo Island.
The islands Mass tourism to the islands has given rise to new dangers to the Lizards, perhaps none greater than smuggling. Over the past few years, dozens of the large lizards have been smuggled off the island in recent years. In a particular sting carried out in March by the Indonesian government , traffickers attempting to sell 41 komodo dragons were apprehended as reported by tempo newspaper.
Smugglers would steal komodo dragons and sell them online, on facebook for around 35,000 dollars.
Ban accompanied by actions to boost Commodo populations
The ban which will come into effect in 2020 and last for approximatively one year , will give time to the indonesian government to repopulate the island with deer, antelopes and other prey the Komodos feed on as well as plants native to the island, which are also important for Komodos well being. The government hopes that the measures will help boost the Komodo populations on the island.
“We want Komodo Island to be like the Galapagos islands… so we need to rehabilitate the flora and fauna,” local tourism agency head Marius Ardu Jelamu told AFP.
The Komodo Dragon Object of Fascination
Much is yet to learn about the Komodo Dragons. Just recently in 2009, scientists discovered that Komodo lizards did in fact have venom in their jaws which they used to kill their prey. Up until that point it had been believed that the Komodo dragons used a deadly cocktail of bacteria in it’s mouth to kill its prey .