Officials from the Komodo National Park have partially closed one section of the park starting today, following outrage from a widely circulated photo of a komodo dragon facing a truck in an ongoing “Jurassic Park” construction project spearheaded by the Indonesian government.
The closure of the Loh Buaya Resort at Pulau Rinca, one of the park’s three larger islands, is scheduled to last until June 30, 2021 but will be evaluated every two weeks, according to an official announcement issued yesterday.
This latest announcement, which officials said was taken to speed up ongoing construction at the site, came after a “standoff” photo between a komodo dragon and a truck went viral over the weekend, raising widespread awareness and concerns among Indonesian netizens over the future of the vulnerable species.
It’s unclear at this point who took the photo, but it has quickly come to symbolize the struggle of nature vs human intervention in the region. The photo has helped spawn the trending hashtag #SaveKomodo today, while a petition urging the revocation of development permits at the park has been signed by more than 341,000 people.
According to Kawan Baik Komodo, a collective aiming to protect Komodo National Park and the environment in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), there are now orders forbidding photo-taking on Pulau Rinca, as posted in the tweet below:
Breaking news! Sejak viralnya foto Komodo vs Truck Proyek, Kepala BTNK keluarkan surat penutupan P Rinca. Kami jg dapat kesaksian bhw semua orang di lokasi dilarang ambil/kirim foto keluar. Surat ditetapkn kemarin (Minggu); mulai berlaku hari ini 26 Okt-Juni 2021. #SaveKomodoNow pic.twitter.com/mZmNiiscbQ
— Save Komodo Now (@KawanBaikKomodo) October 26, 2020
“You may not get any more photo updates. The good friends of Komodo on the field are afraid of being criminalized, because there’s now a letter of [temporary] closure and also prohibition. What’s happening at the Komodo National Park will be even more obscure for the public,” the collective said in another tweet.
The Komodo National Park, established in 1980, sprawls across three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca, and Padar, as well as 26 smaller islands, covering a total area of about 1,800 square kilometers. The park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991.
Though the park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo dragon and are today supposedly dedicated to protect other species, including marine species, it has also been marked as a huge tourist attraction by the Indonesian government.
Last October, officials unveiled controversial plans to transform it partially into a “Jurassic Park” style destination. Activists and local residents have previously said that the proposed concrete-based project could potentially harm the komodo’s natural habitat.
Granted, it’s been a while since we saw Jurassic Park, but as much as we loved it… didn’t the whole franchise basically teach us that the park itself was doomed to fail? Life, uh, finds a way, or something like that.
Read more news and updates from Bali here.