Indonesian authorities have announced they will be closing Komodo Island to tourists after reports surfaced of Komodo dragons being smuggled out of the country.
According to the Straits Times, spokesperson for the provincial authorities Marius Jelamu said the island in Manggarai Barat in East Nusa Tenggara will be closed to tourists from January 2020 onwards.
The move was made after the environment and forest ministry was consulted, he said.
The decision was made after reports surfaced of Komodo dragons being smuggled out of the island. At least 41 dragons were taken from their sanctuary and sold for about 500 million rupiah (US$35,137) each.
Jelamu said that while Komodo Island would be closed, the rest of the Komodo conservation areas would remain open.
He said the temporary closure of the island would pave the way for more effective preservation of the island’s environment and help increase the population of the rare lizards.