EAST JAVA, INDONESIA – March 28th 2019. Police in East Java recently seized 41 Komodo dragons destined for illegal sale and shipment out of the country. Each one could fetch about 35 grand and were bound for other parts of Southeast Asia.
Akhmad Yusep Gunawan head of the East Java Police special crimes unit said they had also rescued five baby Komodo dragons from the Surabaya-based group of alleged smugglers who had sold them through Facebook.
The island of Komodo in Indonesia is the only place where one can find the world’s largest lizard. Komodo dragons can grow up to 10 ft long, have razor sharp teeth, and are totally dominant in their natural habitat. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination.
The result of the recent smuggling activities is that the island will be closed temporarily to tourists starting in January 2020.
The Director General of Natural Resources at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry assured that the closure would only be done on Komodo Island, not across all surrounding conservation areas. Komodo dragons are endangered, and strains on their small isolated habitat from environmental damage and poaching have taken their toll.
The closure will be used as an opportunity to advance conservation efforts to increase the density of endemic plants and animal species that will hopefully allow the island to recover and the dragon population to increase.