Following reports of rampant smuggling of Komodo Dragons Indonesia will be closing Komodo to tourists for a year, according to local media reports.
According to Indonesia's Tempo newspaper, the government will temporarily close the popular tourist attraction in January 2020. The news comes after police busted a ring of lizard smugglers last month that were going to sell 41 Komodo Dragons.
The lizards, found on only a small group of Indonesian islands, are endangered in the wild and protected by international law, but are sometimes illegally smuggled as exotic pets. They are capable of growing up to 10 feet long and weighing up to 200 pounds.
According to BBC, a police spokesman in East Java said five suspected smugglers had been arrested in Semarang and Surabaya. The reptiles were being sold for up to $1,400 (£1,000) each, officials said.
The temporary shutdown will allow better preservation of the island’s nature and environment and increase the komodo population, Marius Jelamu, a spokesman for the provincial administration, said. Tempo reports that only Komodo Island will close; the rest of the national park will remain open to tourism.