We need to talk about the current situation with Komodo dragons

Here's a headline you probably thought you'd never read

By Michelle Ganley - Graham Media Group
Getty Images

Naga, a komodo dragon at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images).

We hope you weren’t planning a trip to Indonesia any time soon, hoping to steal a peek at some Komodo dragons.

Because people are actually stealing Komodo dragons. And this is why we can’t have nice things -- or plan nice trips, in this case.

This information has been public for a few months now: [ Indonesia's famed Komodo Island may close for 1 year ], but we're continuing to learn more about the situation.

And we can't help but wonder: Do most people know about this?

In looking into this story, here are some of the things we learned:

  • Komodo dragons got their name because they come from an island called Komodo.
  • That island is going to close to tourists next year, because people keep taking the Komodo dragons.
  • Some criminals are even trying to sell, or they're actually selling, the scary-looking creatures on an international black market for 500 million rupiahs apiece, which translates to just more than $35,120 in U.S. dollars, according to published reports. Think about what you could buy with that much money!

If you’re scratching your head right now, you’re not alone. As a brief author’s note, I can't help but think that someone could come to my house offering me a free komodo dragon -- and a handler! -- and I still wouldn’t accept. I mean, it looks like a dinosaur.

Would you want one?

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Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The animals, perhaps best known for their venomous bites and massive size, can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh as much as 150 pounds, according to a quick Google search.

So, considering that size, what are people doing with these dragons? They don’t look friendly, and they don't appear to make very cuddly pets.

Yet, according to reports, animal traffickers are smuggling these dragons and selling them abroad -- for a lot of money.

Komodo dragons are considered endangered, protected animals, so it should come as no surprise that officials in Indonesia are not happy about the theft of these lizards. (They're the largest lizards on Earth, by the way).

The Indonesian government announced the island's impending closure, which is expected to be effective as of January 2020, in a meeting earlier this year, according to the newspaper Tempo. It’s just a temporary tourist shutdown, but the island will remain off limits for at least a full year, the report said.

CNN reports that, for months, Indonesian officials had been discussing plans to limit the number of visitors to Komodo Island, and then 41 dragons were taken from the island. The supposed smuggling ring was busted in March. So now we have a tourism ban coming.

When the island is closed, officials will reportedly embark on a conservation program aimed at increasing the population of the dragons while, at the same time, preserving their habitat, according to CNN.

There you have it. If you were hoping to see these not-so-friendly-looking guys at one of Indonesia's most popular tourist destinations, you’ll have to cross your fingers that the situation looks better in 2021.

The island has about 2,000 permanent residents, this website says.

To all the Komodo dragons of the world: We're sorry some people are so awful.

h/t Vice


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