The Indonesian government reversed its announcement of the closure of Komodo island and introduced a membership scheme to visit the home of Komodo dragons. According to the authorities, $1,000 membership fee will be charged but the precise details of the scheme have not been made public, quoted a global broadcaster. In July this year, the government had planned the closure of the island for a year, starting January 2020.
The governor of East Nusa Tenggara Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat said that the island will remain open but the visitors have to take a $1000 membership scheme. Currently, the tourists are charged around $10 to enter the land of Komodo dragons. An Indonesian news agency reported that the membership scheme will be at two levels, premium and non-premium. While the premium members will be allowed to Komodo island, also known as ‘Dragon Island’, the non-premium members will be allowed to visit other islands in Komodo national park, except Komodo island.
The reason given behind the earlier decision to close the island was to stop tourism from interfering in the mating and hatching processes of the world’s largest lizards. Komodo Dragons are listed as vulnerable species on the IUCN red list. There have also been reports, in the past, of attempts of illegal trade of Komodo dragons. In March 2019, a criminal network was busted that was trying to smuggle 41 young Komodo dragons out of Indonesia.
To protect the Komodo dragons population, Komodo national park was founded in 1980. Though the dragons are shy in nature and avoid human encounters, it can get aggressive if cornered. In 2017, a tourist was bitten by a Komodo dragon after the tourist got too close to the reptile. The tourist was rescued by locals and rushed to a hospital for treatment.
(With inputs from agencies)