Komodo Island to Remain Open
Indonesia has decided it will not close the island of Komodo next year as earlier planned because its population of rare and giant Komodo lizards (Varanus komodoensis) is relatively stable and not under threat, the environment minister said recently.
In July reports circulated that the island needed to be closed to the public to stop tourism from interfering in mating and hatching processes of the lizards. The ministry added that the provincial and central governments would work together to revamp tourism areas, improve the training of park rangers as well as set up a research center. More than 176,000 tourists visited Komodo National Park in 2018.
These unique lizards, existing no-where else in the world, are of great scientific interest, especially for their evolutionary implications. Most commonly known as “Komodo Dragons” due to its appearance and aggressive behavior, the Komodo Lizard, is the largest living species of lizard, growing to an average length of 2 to 3 meters.
The species is the last representative of a relic population of large lizards that once lived across Indonesia and Australia. As well as being home to the Komodo dragon, the Park provides a refuge for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. The rich coral reefs of Komodo host a great diversity of species, and the strong currents of the sea attract the presence of sea turtles, whales, dolphins and dugongs.
In order to ensure the effective management and protection of the park and its exceptional landscapes and biota, the park is governed through the 2000-2025 Management Plan, which will require revision and updating. These plans are important for ensuring the effective zoning system of the park and guaranteeing the sustainability of the ecosystems of the property. The management authority is known for designing specific plans to guide management decisions which will require updating in line with changes to priorities and threats, in particular expected increases in visitor numbers and impacts from tourism.
The Park receives strong support and resources from the central government of Indonesia. As a tourism location known worldwide, the Indonesian Government has a specific program for ecotourism management to promote the park at the international level and to ensure the sustainability of tourism activities. Additionally, in order to address illegal fishing and poaching, regular patrolling of the marine and terrestrial areas is carried out for law enforcement and a number of the problems and impacts associated with these activities have decreased. Community awareness and empowerment programs are being implemented to engage the local villagers regards to the sustainable use of natural resources and park conservation. Research and study of the unique biological features of the park is also being promoted and supported by the management authority.
Frontiers reporting with sources: UNESCO