The general concept one has of dragons is of massive creatures that spew fire. However, the Komodo dragons of Indonesia are huge lizards but they do not spew fire. In fact they roam freely in Komodo Island, a UNESCO world heritage site. Tourists Travel from distant places in large numbers to come here and watch the creatures labeled as the largest species of lizard on earth. Recently, the authorities in one of the provinces had proposed to impose a ban on tourism for a period of one year from January 2020.

The Komodo National Park would have been out of the purview of the proposed ban. They cited several reasons but the environment ministry of Indonesia has reversed that decision. It said there is no threat to the dragons from over-tourism.

The Guardian provides some statistics about the Komodo dragons. Official estimates put the numbers at 1,727 in Indonesia and the numbers have remained stable from 2002 to 2019. Hence, there is no apparent threat to the lizards. The intention of the ban was to protect the species from the influence of humans. Some felt the influx of tourists affected the mating habits of the lizards while the food handouts made them docile. Another factor was poaching.

Hike in entry fee on the cards

Tourism gives a boost to the economy and the footfalls in the Komodo National Park are impressive. In 2018, they were around 176,000 and East Nusa Tenggara wanted to cash in on this. In 2018, Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat had a proposal. He wanted to target high-end customers. His logic was, “Only people with deep pockets are allowed to [see Komodo dragons].” That did not go down well with a section of the island’s residents.

They feared relocation to allow for the expansion of tourism infrastructure. Loss of income also preyed on their minds.

The Guardian adds that even though the proposed ban was scrapped, the environment ministry explains about its plans. Komodo is an ancient lizard discovered by Europeans in the early 20th century.

They are predators, can grow up to ten feet in length and can kill the prey with ease. Their total population is about 5,700. In order to learn more about the species, a komodo dragon research center could come up with revamped tourist facilities.

Komodo wants to cash in on tourism

According to the BBC, the famous island of Komodo in Indonesia is home to the Komodo dragon. Fears of its closure to tourists next year are on hold but there could be a new $1,000 membership scheme. The ministry of environment has approved this.

There will be two levels of membership. Those who opt for the premium category can visit Komodo Island. For non-premium members, they can visit other islands in the Komodo National Park, where dragons also live. At present, tourists have to pay around $10 as an entry fee to enter the island. Incidentally, there has been a gradual increase in the number of tourists from 44,000 in 2008 to 176,000 in 2018. This is impressive because it works out to a fourfold increase in a decade.

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