The Komodo dragon is a protected animal in Indonesia. Photo: iStock

Authorities in Indonesia have arrested nine men linked to a trafficking ring that dealt in the iconic Komodo dragons, a prized and endangered giant lizard.

The nine men were arrested by police on March 26 in Surabaya, East Java, the New Straits Times reported. The suspects told police they had already sold more than 40 Komodo dragons for 500 million rupiah (US$35,000) each.

Rofiq Ripto Himawan, a police commissioner in East Java, said the dragons were sold for traditional medicine as they can be used in an antibiotic recipe. The buyers usually come from Asia.

Apart from five Komodo dragons, other animals including pangolins, exotic birds and a wild cat were seized as well. Himawan added that veterinarians and conservationists were working with police to ensure the animals were taken care of.

The traffickers were reportedly using social media to look for buyers.

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