Indonesian authorities have cancelled plans to close Komodo Island to tourists.
The country’s environment ministry has said that Komodo dragons living there are not under threat from over-tourism.
The Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat, declared intentions back in July to close Komodo island for one year, starting in January 2020, in order to stop tourists interfering with the natural behaviour the endangered lizards that inhabit the island.
However, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, announced on 30th October 2019 that the plans have been cancelled.
According to government figures, 1,727 Komodo dragons live across the UNESCO world heritage site. The closure was initially announced amid concerns that increasing numbers of tourists were affecting the animals’ mating habits, with food handouts making them docile. There were also concerns about poachers targeting Komodo dragons and deer, their main prey.
“The number of Komodo dragons on Komodo island during observations over 2002 to 2019 has been relatively stable. There is no threat of a decline,” Bakar told Reuters.
A new Komodo dragon research centre is expected to open on the island, with the ministry promising to revamp tourist spots in the area.
The Komodo dragon, which can grow up to three metres long, kills its prey by biting it and infecting it with venomous saliva, then letting the animal bleed to death. In 2013, two people were taken to hospital after being attacked by a giant Komodo dragon that had wandered into the office of a wildlife park in eastern Indonesia. It is estimated there are about 5,700 Komodo dragons in the wild.
Source: The Guardian
Image: Lonely Planet