The Jakarta Post
A recent study has discovered several komodo dragons, mostly in the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), surviving near Golo Mori and Tanjung Kerita Mese villages in the Mbeliling Forest area on Flores Island.
The discovery was disclosed by Irfan Saputra, Burung Indonesia communications and awareness officer in Mbeliling, to The Jakarta Post in Labuan Bajo, the seat of West Manggarai regency, recently.
Irfan said the discovery of the rare species was significant because it proved the presence of komodo in areas other than on the Komodo and Rinca islands, which make up the Komodo National Park.
Komodo Island can be reached in three hours by speed boat while Rinca Island is one hour from Labuan Bajo.
Unfortunately, both Golo Mori and Tanjung Kerita Mese villages, where the new populations of komodo were found, are prone to ecological and social problems, in part due to the absence of a legal umbrella regulating conservation in the area.
'The research team recorded pictures of komodo dragons using camera traps in Golo Mori,' Irfan said.
'We hope our media friends can publicize this information as part of an effort to push for the conservation of this ancient animal in the Mbeliling area, on Flores Island,' he said.
The study was conducted by the conservation group Burung Indonesia, the NTT Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) and Komodo Survival Program from June 30 to July 3 in Golo Mori and from Sept. 24 to 27 in Tanjung Kerita Mese.
The studies were not conducted to assess the relative sizes of the komodo populations. However, based on morphology (body size and color patterns) observations and the timing of camera traps as well as distance and time-of-movement considerations, it is estimated that there are at least five komodo dragons in Golo Mori coastal forest and another seven in Tanjung Kerta Mese.
The figures are the minimum estimates based on camera trap records with further studies needed to estimate the size of the komodo populations in both villages.
According to BKSDA, the spread of the komodo dragons in Flores was previously reported by researchers Claudio Ciofi and M. de Boer in 2004.
The report revealed that the komodo dragon could still be found in a number of locations along the Riung coast in northern Flores, and the Nangalili coast in southern Flores.
There has been no update on the status of population of the komodo dragons since the publication, except in the Riung and Wae Wuul nature reserves.
Komodo dragons can also be found in Nanga Bere in South Lembor district, West Manggarai, and further east in Pota in Sambi Rampas district, East Manggarai regency, and in Riung in Ngada regency.
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