INDONESIA will go ahead with a controversial tourist attraction dubbed “Jurassic Park”, despite pleas from UNESCO to halt the project.
The £3.46million ($4.8million) scheme is on track to be built around the Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1980, the national park is home to the world’s biggest lizard, the fearsome Komodo dragon. Environmental groups and UNESCO have expressed concern about the potential impact increased tourism to the area will have on the fragile habitat.
Indonesia’s government has, however, confirmed on Thursday the construction of its tourist attractions will continue undeterred.
The plans include the construction of a resort on Rinca Island that will allow visitors to walk among the wild Komodo dragons.
Rinca is one of the three biggest islands within the Komodo National Park in the eastern parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
The island is home to many wild species, including the Komodo dragon, which can grow up to 9.8ft in length.
In July this year, UNESCO told a World Heritage Committee conference the project needs to be reassessed to better understand its impact on the local environment.
The UN group called on the Indonesian government for an updated assessment but has not received a response.
A senior official at Indonesia’s environment ministry has now told Reuters: “The project will proceed… it’s been proven to have no impact.”
The official went on to say the project primarily focuses on renovating existing infrastructure and does not threaten the vulnerable Komodo dragon.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the Komodo dragon is already at risk from human activities.
Work on the project began last year, sparking concern about illegal fishing and damage to the Komodo’s natural habitat.
The project has been dubbed Jurassic Park, after Steven Spielberg’s hit film of the same name.
Advertising material promoting the tourist attraction on Instagram used music featured in the film.
Some of the concerns surrounding the project were sparked by a viral photo shared by the Save Komodo Now campaign in October.
The photo shows a large Komodo dragon approaching a lorry filled with construction materials.
Two men – one wearing a high visibility vest and the other a hard hat – are seen sitting on the lorry.
Although rare, Komodo dragons have been known to attack humans and have been responsible for a number of deaths.
Between 1974 and 2012, for instance, 24 attacks on humans have been reported in the Komodo National Park.
At least five of these attacks resulted in death.
In 2008, an eight-year-old boy was killed on Komodo Island when going behind a bush to use the toilet.
Park rangers at the time believed the attack may have been prompted by the dry season and lack of access to the lizard’s watering holes.
Indonesia is home to more than 3,000 Komodo dragons.
When mature, the terrifying lizards weigh up to 200 pounds and boast a powerful, venomous bite.
Komodo dragons are stealthy hunters that possess a keen sense of smell, using their forked tounges to taste the air.
According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, the creatures will spend hours waiting for a tasty morsel before lunging for the attack.
The Smithsonian said: “Komodo dragons eat almost any kind of meat, scavenging for carcasses or stalking animals that range in size from small rodents to large water buffalo.”
The apex predators are found on the island of Komodo, Rinca, and Padar and Flores in the Lesser Sunda group.
Source: Daily Express