These majestic creatures are one of the few original links with our distant prehistoric past. They have been subject so several documentaries over the years including a starring role in the BBC’s epic natural history program Life narrated by the master himself Sir David Attenborough.
They are my favourite living dragon, their resilience is second to none, they are however dying out. The reduction in food and a large influx of tourism is seeing a decline in the population on dragon island. The Indonesian governments initial reaction was to consider banning tourists as the numbers have been steadily growing since its discovery in the mid 20th century, earlier in the century claims of giant crocodiles emanated from the island and its said it inspired the very first King Kong movie. The increase in ecotourism has been a mixed blessing, it raises awareness for important issues but in the same vein continues to destroy the very thing these people are trying to protect.
After some consideration the Indonesian government have come to an alternative solution, which if it works then it may help to solve the over all problem. In 2020 new membership fees of up to $1000 (one years access) to the Island will be put in place, tourists will be able to visit the national park without paying the membership fee which also houses the Jurassic lizards. In 2018 it is estimated that over 170,000 up significantly from 44,000 ten years previously. People visited the island which is crazy when you consider the size of it paying around $10 for access. That gives you some scale of the problem, its not just the dragons who are affected the indigenous population are at risk from displacement just as much as the dragons are.
Personally I feel that ecotourism does more hard than good, I appreciate that people want to help but visiting and staring will not help them, pouring money into the local economy may help in small doses but does not solve the problem. Time and space to rebuild the ecology of the island is the only thing that will help the decline.