Made Arya Kencana
The Bali Legislative Council has joined the growing chorus of protest against the Forestry Ministry’s decision to move 10 Komodo dragons from West Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara to a safari park on the resort island.
Ida Bagus Putu Wesnawa, the speaker of the council, firmly denounced the plan to move the endangered lizards from Flores Island to Taman Safari Indonesia in Gianyar after meeting with dozens of demonstrators at his office on Friday.
He said Bali’s main draws were its unique culture and natural attractions, and that relocating animals from outside the province was not necessary.
“Wouldn’t it be more interesting for the tourists to go directly to Komodo National Park?” he said.
Forestry Minister MS Kaban has so far rebuffed protests against the proposed relocation of the lizards, saying the move was a temporary measure meant to protect the animals and help them multiply.
There are about 2,500 Komodo dragons living in their original habitats on Komodo and Rinca islands between Sumbawa and Flores. Only 17 are left in a nature conservancy in Wae Wuul, West Manggarai, in Flores.
Roby Gamar, the coordinator of Friday’s protests, said the plan would harm the chances of Komodo National Park being listed as one of Seven New Wonders of Nature. The park has already made the contest’s short list.
The protesters demanded the forestry minister revoke the decision, which they said was a dangerous attempt to boost tourism to Bali.
“We are demanding that the preservation of the Komodo dragon take place in their original habitat. That’s final. No more bargaining,” Roby said.
Activists from ProFauna in Bali have also protested the planned move. The coordinator for the Bali office of ProFauna, I Wayan Wiradnyana, said the ministry’s reasoning for the relocation plan had not been thought out.
The management of Taman Safari Bali, meanwhile, claimed it had not been notified about the plan to relocate the lizards.