Komodo Island is closing because people are stealing the dragons

Indonesia government officials are shutting down tourist visits to Komodo Island for 2020 because smugglers are stealing the fantastic Komodo dragons and selling them on the black market. All next year, conservationists will focus on boosting the dragon population and habitat preservation. From CNN:

Though plans to limit the number of Komodo visitors have been under discussion for months, Tempo reports the closure comes in response to the March bust of an alleged smuggling ring in which 41 Komodo lizards were taken from the island and sold abroad for 500 million rupiah each (about $35,000)…

Part of the UNESCO-listed Komodo National Park, Komodo Island has grown increasingly popular in recent years thanks to the addition of new flights and hotels in the nearby town of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores. The park currently receives an average of 10,000 visitors per month.

According to UNESCO figures, there are more than 5,000 dragons spread across the national park's islands of Komodo, Rinca, Gili Motong and some coastal regions of western and northern Flores.

(image: UNESCO)