According to local media, government officials have decided to bar tourists from visiting Komodo Island for at least a year. The Indonesian island is a hotspot for travellers wishing to come face to face with the Komodo dragon – the largest lizard species in the world, capable of growing up to three metres long and weighing 300 lbs.
The decision to shutter the island comes after Indonesian police uncovered a group of smugglers who stole more than 40 Komodo dragons and then sold them online.
The rare lizards are a vulnerable species who can only be found on a small cluster of islands in Indonesia. While there is a population of around 6,000 Komodo dragons left in this area, it’s estimated that only 350 of them are females capable of reproducing. Starting in January 2020, the closure will protect the Komodo dragons and allow the government to focus on conservation efforts on the island.
Komodo Island is one of three main islands that make up Komodo National Park, an archipelago within the Lesser Sundra Islands. During the Komodo Island closure, the other parts of the park will remain open to the public.