Komodo Island Is Closing Because People Keep Stealing Its Famous Dragons
Here comes another story about people ruining things I'm afraid: the Indonesian government is closing Komodo Island because people keep stealing its famous dragons.
The aptly-named home of the world's largest lizards will close from January 2020 after police recently uncovered a smuggling ring attempting to sell 41 of the reptiles overseas for £26,600 ($35,000) each.
It is hoped that the closure will allow the government time to work on bolstering the population by conserving the habitat and planting indigenous plants.
The decision was made following a meeting between East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial administration and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
The government has not yet indicted when the island will re-open to tourists, according to Indonesia's Tempo newspaper.
Komodo dragons grow up to three metres long and can weigh up to 200lbs. They are fearsome predators, with a powerful bite and tail and sharp claws. They can also climb trees, swim and are very quick over ground.
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As such, smuggling the creatures must surely be quite difficult. Indeed, a photographer had a hell of a time last September just trying to keep one of the beasts out of his boat - so who knows how exactly these smugglers go about their business. That said, the lizards have reportedly become more docile on the island due to the sheer prevalence of tourists.
The closure of the island - one of the 17,508 that comprise Indonesia - doesn't mean tourists in Indonesia won't be able to see the species though. Komodo dragons can be found across the Komodo National Park, which is comprised of several islands, including Gili Motong, Rinca and Padar.
There are an estimated 6,000 of the dragons left in the wild, all of which can be found in the national park, according to the World Animal Foundation.
Indonesian Authorities thwarted another attempt to sell five of the dragons on Facebook last Wednesday. They were being sold along with a number of other exotic animals, including bearcats and cassowaries. The dragons were being sold for more than $1,000 (£7,600), according to the Daily Mail. The suspects were arrested in Semarang and Surabaya on Java island.
Featured Image Credit: PA