Indonesia has backflipped on plans to close the eastern island of Komodo next year.
The country’s environmental minister said data has shown the population of komodo dragons, the largest living species of lizard, have been stable for more than a decade despite a surge in tourists, according to Reuters.
In April it was announced that the island located in Manggarai Barat in East Nusa Tenggara province, would be closing for a year from January 2020 to stop tourist numbers from interfering with the dragon’s mating and hatching process.
It was also reported at the time that the closure was in response to the attempted smuggling of 41 komodo dragons to be sold for $50,000 each.
The island was supposed to reopen after a year, however, environment and forestry minister Siti Nurbaya Baker said it was no longer necessary to close the island at all.
“(The number of) Komodo dragons on Komodo island during 2002 to 2019 observations has been relatively stable. There is no threat of a decline,” Bakar said in a text message to Reuters.
The ministry also told Reuters the provincial and central governments would be working together to revamp the island’s tourism offerings, improve ranger training, provide better equipment for patrols and set up a research centre for the dragons.