It looks like tourists wishing to visit Komodo Island, the most famous home of the world’s largest species of lizard, the Komodo dragon, will have to go this year or wait until 2021 after the local government announced plans to shut down the famed tourism island for all of 2020.
But those who want to get up close to the giant lizards in their natural habitats will still have other nearby options in 2020. Last month, the governor of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) announced plans to shut down all of Komodo National Park — encompassing Komodo Island as well as another 171 islands — for one year in order to help revitalize the population of Komodo dragons as well as the wildlife they feed on, but, following protests from the local tourism industry, have narrowed the plans to just the one island.
“As of January 2020, we will close temporarily, but not as a whole, only specifically Komodo Island,” said NTT Tourism Office head Marius Ardu Jelamu on Friday as quoted by Kompas.
Marius said that the decision to close Komodo Island was made jointly by the NTT Government and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, which generally hold jurisdiction over Indonesia’s national parks. He also said that the ministry had agreed to share management duties of the park with the NTT and regency governments.
The NTT tourism head also noted that visitors could still see Komodo dragons in the wild on other islands within the park, and that efforts to revitalize wildlife populations would extend to islands beyond Komodo as well.
NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat had previously discussed plans to shut down all of Komodo National Park for one year to help replenish the population of Komodo dragons and the animals that they prey upon, particularly deer native to the park’s islands that are the main source of food for the giant lizards.
Viktor said that a lack of deer, largely due to poaching by locals, was not only hurting the size of the Komodo dragon population but also their actual size in terms of how large they could grow. He also noted that Komodo dragons are cannibals and could potentially turn to eating each other if there was not an adequate deer population.