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Villagers lose out in plan to save Komodo dragon

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:50s - Published < > Embed
Villagers lose out in plan to save Komodo dragon

Villagers lose out in plan to save Komodo dragon

Following a boom in tourism, Indonesia has decided to close Komodo island to the public next year to allow for the recovery of the world's largest lizard and its habitat.

But part of that effort means relocating thousands of villagers.

Eve Johnson reports.

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Villagers lose out in plan to save Komodo dragon

The world's largest lizard can grow up to ten feet long.

But Indonesia's formidable Komodo dragon cannot defend itself against tourism.

A recent surge in visitors to Komodo Island has damaged the lizard's habitat.

So, officials are taking drastic measures to protect this rare species, a measure that puts the squeeze on another group sharing the island: the local residents.

The government recently announced a plan to close Komodo Island to the public and force around 2,000 villagers to relocate.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) KOMODO ISLAND VILLAGER, DAHLIA SAYING: We don't want to move.

My ancestors' graves, my father's grave - they are all here.

What will happen to them if we have to leave?" Last year, around 180,000 visitors visited Komodo National Park a conservation area including other nearby islands.

While tourism has boomed, many farmers have lost land to the park and have turned to tourism-dependent jobs.

Now, even those are under threat.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) WOODEN CRAFTSMAN, MUTTAQIN SAYING: "We made a living selling souvenirs.

If this place closes, how can we earn money?

This is our only work." Ultimately, the government plans to turn the island into a high-end destination - a vision that not everyone seems to share.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TOURIST FROM FRANCE, ANYA SAYING: "I think, if they close to tourism because it is like destroying the habitation of like the dragon and villagers it is good.

If they close it to do something else, maybe like resorts or build something that it doesn't belong to nature it's not a great idea." Critics warn that plans to upgrade Komodo Island will only put more money into the hands of big tourism companies, bypassing the people who have lived here for generations.

But so far, officials haven't budged.

The island will be closed for a year beginning in January.

ENDS




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