The Jakarta Post
Sudiyono said no special studies were carried out that proved the Komodo dragons were stressed, however, he noted that the dragons were more aggressive if they were disturbed while eating. (JP/Intan Tanjung)
The head of East Nusa Tenggara's (NTT) Komodo National Park, Sudiyono, has denied reports saying that Komodo dragons at the park are under stress as a result of tourists.
“The Komodo dragons are comfortable, so far. There may be a change in attitude, but they’re not stressed. When an animal is stressed out, they become aggressive and until now there hasn’t been any aggressive behavior,” Sudiyono told Kompas Travel on Monday.
His remarks came as a response to reports saying that an increase in the number of visitors at the park caused stress on the lizard species, the largest in the world.
Sudiyono said no special studies were carried out that proved the Komodo dragons were stressed, however, he noted that the dragons were more aggressive if they were disturbed while eating.
“The Komodo dragons will be more aggressive when they are eating or being disturbed while eating. If they have finished eating but they see something moving, their instincts will tell them that [the moving object] is food,” he said.
Speaking on recent cases in which visitors were attacked by Komodo dragons, Sudiyono said the attacks occurred because the visitors were not with their guide. Visitors must be accompanied by a guide at all times, according to park rules.
In regard to the rising number of visitors, Sudiyono said the situation was automatically controlled by the limited number of available guides and the visitors taking part in other activities, such as diving, snorkeling and island-hopping.
Head of the NTT tourism office, Maurius Ardu Jelamu, previously expressed concerns over the supposedly stressed-out Komodo dragons.
“I’ve received a lot of insight from foreign tourists, some from Singapore and Europe. When they visited, they saw how visit patterns were not managed well due to the high number of visitors in the park,” he said.
Speaking on visitors who were attacked, Marius said that the Komodo dragons don’t normally act aggressively, so further studies must be conducted on the shift in behavior.
If studies find that the Komodo dragons are sensitive to the presence of humans, the park's visiting hours might be changed.
“We would not limit it, but we have to rearrange it starting with visiting hours. There should be visitor-free hours so that the park will be less packed,” said Marius.
The head of the the NTT chapter of the Association of Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA), Abed Frans, said he was uncertain over whether the Komodo dragons were stressed.
“My friends said guests said that [they were stressed], but not all of them. I don’t know about whether a Komodo dragon can be stressed out. At the same time, we were assigned to increase the number of visitors,” Abed said.
If it is shown that the Komodo dragons were stressed, there might be a limit on the number of daily visitors, he added. (asw)