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There is good news and bad news for herpetologists around the world. While Komodo island in Indonesia has cancelled its plan to close for a year in 2020, a heartrending new membership fee of $1000 has been imposed by the state instead. The membership can be utilised for one year. The island is home to over 2000 Komodo dragons (the largest extant species of lizards) and invites thousands of tourists every year. Komodo dragons are native to Indonesia and can only be found on these islands.
According to the state-owned news agency Antara, there will be two tiers (at different price points) for those who wish to visit the tourist attraction- premium and non-premium. While the non-premium tourists will be allowed to visit Komodo Island, the premium members will have access to travel to nearby islands, including Rinca Island and Padar Island, where the dragons also live.
In July, the governor of East Nusa Tenggara province confirmed that the island needed to be shut in order to stop interference by tourists with the mating and hatching process of the reptiles and the poaching of the prey (deer, buffalo and wild boar). However, in late September, the decision was announced as overruled by the environment and forestry minister, Siti Nurbaya Bakar saying “There is no threat of a decline”.
Instead of stopping tourist influx altogether, the new membership fee intends to curb the number of people. The money received by way of membership fee will proceed towards the conservation of the island and the biodiversity. More specifically, rangers will be provided with better training and equipment and a research centre for Komodo dragons will be set up.
Currently, the tickets for the island is available at 35 cents for locals and $10.50 for foreign tourists.
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