If you were planning a trip to Indonesia to see a Komodo dragon after watching 'Game of Thrones', we have some bad news for you. Indonesia government officials have decided to shut down all tourist visits to Komodo Island for 2020 because smugglers keep stealing the enormous lizards and selling them on the black market.
The decision to bar tourists from the Komodo National Park was made after the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial administration met with Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
"The meeting concludes that Komodo Island will be shut down temporarily in January 2020," NTT administration spokesman Marius Jelamu said on Friday (March 29).
Originally, officials wanted to limit the number of visitors to Komodo Island, but decided to instead close the island to tourism after authorities busted a smuggling ring in which 41 Komodo dragons were taken off the island and sold abroad for more than $35,000 apiece.
While the island is closed to tourists, conservationists plan on examining the animal's food supply chain, work on preserving plant species that are native to Komodo, as well as conduct a survey of the dragon's natural environment.
Komodo dragons are a species of lizard that are native to the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, and Gili Motang. They are the largest living species of lizard, with some adults growing up to ten feet long.
"Those are our plans to manage Komodo National Park especially Komodo Island in 2020," said Marius.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates there are more than 5,000 Komodo dragons spread across the national park's islands. The park receives an average of 10,000 visitors every month.
Conservationists say barring tourists from the island is expected to help increase the population of Komodo dragons that live on the island as well as help preserve the habitat of the giant lizards.
Photo: Getty Images