Published on Thursday, April 4, 2019

Indonesia's Komodo Island to close next year

Travellers who crave a close encounter with Indonesia's fearsome Komodo dragons next year may be out of luck.

From January 2020, Komodo Island will be closed to tourists for a year to replenish the habitat and to ensure the island has sufficient live food stocks for the flesh eating lizards, according to Marius Jelamu, spokesman for East Nusa Tenggara's provincial government.

Park management want to return the island to its usual 'wild' condition and keep it as natural as possible whilst providing the necessary infrastructure for visitors.  

The Komodo dragon is one of the world's most iconic mammals but only found on a handful of tiny islands in the Komodo National Park.

Other islands including Rinca and Padar will remain open, local news outlet Tempo reports.

However as Komodo receives the most tour groups, it is still unclear how this will affect visitor numbers.

Local authorities have been mulling closing the island for the past couple of years due to the unchecked increase in visitors which has started to impact the local habitat.

However it seems the final straw were the recent arrests of smugglers who allegedly stole 41 Komodo dragons.

It is claimed they sold them to international buyers and raked in $35,000 for each one.

There are about 5,700 dragons living in the wild according to UNESCO, all of them within the National Park.

The region welcomes about 150,000 visitors every year.

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