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Indonesia’s Komodo Island Closure - Is it true?
Komodo National Park still remains open
There has been a lot of news regarding the closure of one of the 7 Wonders of Nature - Komodo Island. Komodo National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is one of the only places where people can see the infamous Komodo Dragons in the wild.
Closure of Komodo Island
What travellers should know: It is still possible to see the dragons in other parts of Komodo Island.
When will the closure happen: The closure will take place on January 2020 and will be closed for at least a year. There has been no news of reopening dates as of yet
Reason for the closure: During this closure, the Governor aims to revitalize the island with better forest management and better food supplies for the endangered lizards.
Due to the island closure, 2000 inhabitants of the island have been asked to move off temporarily.
Overview of Komodo National Park
Most Komodo dragons - about 1,727 of them - live on their namesake Komodo Island, but there are more than 20 other islands in Komodo National Park still open to the public, such as Padarm Gili Motang, Rinca and Nusa Kode.
What’s going to happen to the locals?
The idea of fewer tourists in the coming year scares these locals because 70% of them make a living from tourism. “Komodos and humans live in harmony here. We can work with the governor to better protect the Komodo - we don’t have to be moved away,” says Nur, a souvenir-seller worried about what the future might hold.
Losing income from this booming tourism site will be difficult for the locals because they don’t have the means to return to their original hunter-gatherer lifestyle which can be quite harmful to the environment.
We spoke to a local called Marcia, the co-founder of iDIVE. Marcia mentions, “The people here place family first and it is very important to them. We believe that there will still be a place for people to find jobs within the town and within the tourism industry. We are positive that the locals will help each other to thrive, especially during this period.
If the plan falls through, the Komodo villagers vowed to put up a battle. “We would be better off dying than leaving this place as this is the land of our ancestors. The relationship between us and the Komodo is that tight. We will fight to stay!” says a local on BBC News.
What does this mean for travellers?
Travellers are still able to witness the majestic dragons in other islands but aside from the closure, the Governor is considering levying a fee for those who want to see the dragons.
“People will have to become members and pay $1,000 [£790] to enter for a year. I think that’s cheap. So if we let 50,000 people in we will have $50m [£40m] a year.” Dr Tim Jessop, an Australian academic who has been monitoring the Komodo population in partnership with the national park since 2002, agrees there are issues with the current visitor numbers. He says the growing number of boats coming back and forth, including the plastic waste thrown from them, is having a detrimental impact on marine life.
Till then, we can still appreciate the beauty and wonder of the Komodo dragons while doing our part to prevent traces of litter and carbon footprints. Seek Sophie offers a wide variety of boat operators for you to choose from. For more information, click here.