Komodo weighs temporary tourist ban to boost endangered dragon numbers

photo of komodo dragon “Authorities are considering banning tourists from Komodo, the island home of the ancient Komodo dragon, to allow for conservation efforts amid concerns over animal-smuggling.

The island, in Manggarai Barat, Indonesia, is a major tourist destination, with many people making the trip to see the lizard, which has a venomous bite, can grow up to three meters long, and weigh more than 150 kilograms.

Authorities are considering a temporary closure so they can plant native vegetation and help to restock the dragon’s food supply, thereby increasing the population, reported the Tempo newspaper. Dates for the closure have not been confirmed but earlier discussions have suggested it could last a year.

The talks come amid efforts to tackle the illegal market in endangered species. Police in East Java arrested five people in March accused of smuggling Komodo dragons and other protected animals. Police said the suspects had already sold more than 41 Komodos through Facebook, supposedly for medicinal use. Tempo reported the lizards sold for 500 million rupiah (£27,000) each.”

This is an excerpt from an article first published on Earth Island Journal

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