Tuesday, 18 September 2012

40 Komodo Dragons Living in Flores Island

East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Natural Resource Conservation Center (BBKSDA) estimates that more than 40 Komodo dragons are living outside the province’s national park in West Manggarai regency.

The agency found Komodo dragons in the sanctuaries of Wae Wuul, Wolo Tadho and Riung in Ngada regency, and in the bays of Nangalili, Watu-Manuk, Ende and Maumere.

“Local people have also reported seeing Komodo dragons in Nampar Sempang village in East Manggarai,” the BBKSDA's head, Wiratno, said on Saturday.

“The Komodo Survival Program has found 28 dragons so far,” he says.

In August, operators from the Wolo Tadho Sanctuary caught a male dragon, which has now been moved to Ontoloe Island. The dragon weighs 24.4 kilograms, is 136 centimeters long and has visible wounds on its back, face and tail.

Medical teams from the conservation center and national park are treating the animal with antibiotics, anti-stress medication and vitamins.

Ontoloe Island is a Komodo dragon habitat located far from civilians, to avoid conflicts with local people. It is approximately twice the size of a soccer pitch, and is located near the Wolo Tadho Sanctuary.
“There are lots of animals for the Komodo to eat on the island, like wild boar, monkeys, deer and forest chickens,” Wiratno said.

A team will also be dispatched next week to search for several dragons that allegedly escaped from their natural habitat in Sambi Rampas district, East Manggarai regency. Local people say the Komodos might have escaped due to a road-building project, for which explosives had been used.

The agency is planning to conserve the rare dragons outside national parks, having surveyed some habitats in the sanctuaries of Wolo Tadho, Riung and Ontoloe Island, using the 2012 regional budget. The study will continue until 2013.
“The survey involves the Forest Protection and Natural Conservation Directorate General, the regional administration and civil society organizations,” he said.

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