The Komodo National Park is a national park in Indonesia located within the Lesser Sunda Islands in the border region between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara. The park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones, with a total area of 1,733 km² (603 km² of it land). The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon, the world's largest lizard. Later it was dedicated to protecting other species, including marine species. In 1991 the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site Komodo National Park has been selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Komodo National Park was established in 1980 and was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1991. The park was initially established to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), first discovered by the scientific world in 1912 by J.K.H. Van Steyn. Since then conservation goals have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial.
The majority of the people in and around the Park are fishermen originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups. The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendants of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo, but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.
Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute.
The park comprises a coastal section of western Flores, the three larger islands ofKomodo, Padar and Rinca, 26 smaller islands and the surrounding waters of the Sape Straights. The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin. The terrain is generally rugged, characterized by rounded hills with altitudes up to 735 m. The climate is one of the driest of Indonesia with annual rainfall between 800mm and 1000mm. Mean daily temperatures in the dry season from May to October are around 40°C.
The island of Padar and part of Rinca were established as nature reserves in 1938. Komodo Island was declared a nature reserve in 1965, and in January 1977 as a biosphere reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. The three islands were declared a national park in 1980, which was later extended to include the surrounding marine area and a section of Flores in 1984. In 1991 the national park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since 1995, the national park authority has been supported by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an American environmental organization. A new management plan was co-authored with TNC and implemented in 2000 to address the problem of increasing resource exploitation, both marine and terrestrial. Most pressure on marine resources originates from fishing communities and commercial enterprises from outside the park. However, regulations and restrictions on resource use impact mostly on park residents, who have few options to make a living but rely on what the park has to offer. The provision of alternative livelihoods is part of the overall management strategy, but communities within the park are yet to benefit from appropriate measures addressing their needs.
After 5 years operation, in 2010 Putri Naga Komodo's (PNK) permit was yanked. PNK was a nonprofit joint venture company partially funded by the TNC and the World Bank to operate tourist facilities in hopes of eventually making the park financially self-sustaining. After the moment more illegal fishermen came due to enforcement declined greatly following the exit of TNC that helped fight destructive fishing practices. In early 2012, dive operators and conservationists found many desolate coral sites, reminiscent of grey moonscapes. Illegal fishermen are blasting sites with 'bombs' in a process known as blast fishing. The fisherman use fertilizer and kerosene mixed in beer bottles as explosives or use squeeze bottles to squirt cyanide into the coral to stun and capture fish. In the past two years more than 60 illegal fishermen have been arrested and even one of the suspects was shot and killed after the fishermen tried to escape by throwing fish bombs at the rangers.
Scuba diving is popular because of the park's high marine biodiversity. The development of, largely marine-based, ecotourism is the main strategy to make the park self-financing and generate sufficient revenue through entrance fees and tourism licenses to cover operational and managerial costs. To this end, ajoint venture between TNC and a tourism operator were granted a tourism concession, that also entails extensive park management rights. This concession has generated an ongoing controversy. The joint venture has been accused of making decisions behind closed doors, and many people in and around Komodo claim that they haven’t been consulted regarding decisions that ultimately affect their lives.
Most controversy, however, was caused by the death of several fishermen since the 1980s. The circumstances of the fishermen’s deaths are contested. While park patrol (including, at the time, police and navy personnel) claim they acted in self-defense, fishing communities accuse park management of having deliberately killed the fishermen.
The number of visitors to the park increased from 36,000 in 2009 to 45,000 in 2010. Most of the visitors were foreign tourists as the high transport cost to this remote location is less affordable for local visitors. The park can accommodate up to 60,000 visitors a year according to the local tourism agency.
Komodo Island and its Dragons Komodo is an Indonesian island home to approximately 2,000 people who are mostly descendants of former convicts once exiled here. The island which covers an area of 390km² is part ofKomodo National Parkis especially known for its native Komodo-the world's largest living lizard!
For centuries, a local tradition required feeding the dragons by leaving deer parts behind after a hunt or by sacrificing goats. In the past, the practice maintained a friendly relationship with the animals, which can live for more than 50 years and recognise individual humans. Ancient taboos strictly forbid harming the komodos, which is why they survived here while becoming extinct elsewhere.
In 1995 a US environment protection group began a conservation project designed to create a more natural habitat for the komodos, prohibiting the feeding tradition as well as deer hunting practised by the islanders.deer population consequently increased and is now providing the komodos a more self-sufficient and natural hunting ground than in recent history. Still, having become used to being fed, the komodos occasionally prefer to seek out easier prey in the vicinity of human settlements by entering villages and hiding under stilt-houses while awaiting the opportunity to snap passing goat or chicken. At the same time, the animals have become more aggressive towards humans, sometimes resulting in deadly attacks. Nevertheless, the Komodo Dragon remains a symbolic attraction of the island, drawing a large number of visiting tourists, which provides employment and supports the local economy.
Komodo Island is not just known for its heritage of convicts and fearsome lizards but also for its rich marine life and excellent dive.