Indonesia’s famous Komodo island - home of the Komodo dragon – is poised to close to tourists while wildlife officers work out ways to further protect the dragons.
During the temporary closure, conservationists will examine the lizards’ food supply, work on preserving endemic plant species, and survey the natural environment.
Conservation authorities hope the closure will help to grow the protected Komodo dragon population.
The closure was announced after the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry revealed that it had busted a smuggling ring that was hoping to sell 41 Komodo dragons for about 500 million rupiah each (US$35,000).
There was no explanation of how the smugglers planned to move the dragons off the island – they are three metres long and weigh around 90 kilos.
Only Komodo Island - which has an estimated Komodo population of about 1,800 lizards - will close to tourists. It will be possible to see the animals in other parts of the Komodo national park, including Rinca and Gili Motong islands.