Tourists may be banned from visiting Komodo Island starting in January of 2020. The announcement comes 9 days after officials recently intercepted a smuggling ring trying to sell 41 Komodo dragons on the black market. The dragons were potentially stolen for their “medicinal purposes” and were selling for $35,000 each. 

Komodo dragons stolen

Komodo Island May Be Closed For 1 Year To Protect The Dragons

The temporary shutdown is expected to give officials in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia an opportunity to increase the population of the Komodo dragons and preserve their habitat. According to Tempo, Komodo Island could be closed for up to one full year. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Komodo Dragon as “threatened” on their Red List

Some reports indicate there are about 6,000 of the dragons left in existence and fewer than 500 of those are females capable of breeding. 

Allan Crawford- World Wildlife Fund
Endangered Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragons Are Survivors

Komodo dragons have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. The giant lizards can weigh up to 300 pounds and grow more than 7 feet long. The reason for their success may be their bite.  It's so venomous that a single nip can be fatal. They have survived in the isolated chain of rocky Indonesian islands despite dealing with annual monsoons, tsunamis and drought. Due to their slow metabolism large Komodo dragons can survive on as few as 12 meals per year. 

Komodo dragons in komodo national park

Why Komodo Dragons Are So Valuable

Komodo dragons are immune to the bites of other dragons. Scientists say it's because their blood is filled with anti microbial peptides, an all-purpose infection defense that one day may be used in drugs to protect humans. Since many antibiotics have lost their efficiency this would be a huge development. 

Komodo peptides are unlike any others. The animals have bacteria in their mouth in the wild and they live in a challenging environment and they survive. If we can find out why they're able to fight bacteria and what makes them so successful, we can use that knowledge to develop antibiotics.

Barney Bishop - George Mason University Chemist
Komodo national park shut down

Last year over 70,000 tourists visited Komodo National Park. With the explosive growth in tourism, officials are looking at all possible options including the 1 year visitor ban and increasing the cost of park passes to protect the Komodo dragons.


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