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26 Oct 2020 0:17
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  •   Home > News > Environment

    Indonesia's Jurassic Park-inspired tourist attraction worries Komodo dragon fans

    Indonesia's Komodo dragons are famous around the world, but plans to make them the stars of a Jurassic Park-inspired tourist attraction has conservationists worried.


    The world's largest lizards are the venomous Komodo dragons, a reptile with an ancient lineage that can only be found on handful of Indonesian islands, isolated from the rest of the world.

    Indonesia's Komodo National Park is home to around 4,000 of the creatures, which are believed to have roamed the region for around a million years.

    The park sprawls across three large islands — Komodo, Rinca and Padar — as well as 26 smaller islands, covering a total surface area of more than 1,800 square kilometres.

    Established in 1980, the Komodo National Park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991. The area is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

    Yet, despite these protections, in October last year the Indonesian Government unveiled controversial plans to turn part of the site into a Jurassic Park-style tourist attraction.

    Earlier this month, the architects behind the idea shared a video rendering of the proposed attraction, accompanied by music from the Jurassic Park film franchise.

    Some locals and conservationists are opposed to the new development, and say the proposed concrete-based construction would harm the dragon's natural habitat.

    The Indonesian Government plans to spend 69 billion Indonesia Rupiah ($6.5 million) on the Rinca Island development, which will include a 1.3 hectare geopark and a 4,000 square metre information centre.

    Wide opposition to new development

    Akbar Allayubi, a Komodo Island resident, has worked as a park tour guide for the last seven years.

    He told the ABC residents were not consulted or involved in the decision to develop more tourism infrastructure on the islands.

    "Our definition of conservation has nothing to do with making financial benefits," Mr Allayubi said.

    "According to our ancestors, conservation means to live together with the Komodo dragons within its own ecosystem," Mr Allayubi said.

    There's concern that a plan to drill wells supporting the proposed facility may eventually damage Rinca Island's wildlife habitat, which depends on the island's natural water sources.

    Jatna Supriatna, chairman of the Research Centre for Climate Change at the University of Indonesia, said such worries needed to be addressed by both the government and the site architects.

    "When it comes to [the debate of using] concrete or not, I would say the materials have to be adjusted to the nature of the island," Dr Supriatna said.

    Local businessman Aloysius Suhartim Karya, who is a representative for the islands' business community, demanded the Indonesian government halt the construction plan.

    "We demand the government to be completely transparent regarding its construction and immediately consult the public beforehand," Mr Karya said.

    The Jurassic Park-style development is a small part of an Indonesian Government tourism investment program, which is still aiming to create "new Balis" around the country, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    Shana Fatina, managing director of the local tourism authority, said the development on Rinca Island was in accordance with regulations and would not interrupt conservation efforts.

    Ms Fatina said the proposal had gone through a long process, which required an environmental impact assessment, and that the natural habitat of the Komodo dragons had been taken into account.

    She said UNESCO and the Indonesia's Ministry of Environment and Forestry had been consulted.

    Environmentalists opposed to the national park development have protested three times since February, but are yet to receive a response from the government.

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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