The authorities and scientists have confirmed that the smuggled Komodo dragons found in East Java in March did not come from the conservation site in Komodo National Park, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
“The results from the DNA tests show it is more likely that the animals came from the northern part of Flores Island in NTT, and not from Komodo National Park in the western part of the province,” LIPI researcher Evy Arida said during a press briefing on Monday.
The researcher added the test also revealed that the rescued babies were female.
In March, police investigators in the East Java capital of Surabaya busted a network of criminals who had attempted to smuggle 41 Komodo dragons out of the country. Each of the animals was sold for Rp 500 million (US$34,762) on the international black market.
Komodo dragons are among the most endangered species in the world. According to 2018 data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, there are only 2,897 Komodo dragons left in Komodo National Park, the only place in the world where people can see the animal in their natural habitat.
Evy added there had been a plan to release the rescued baby Komodo dragons on Ontoloe Island in Ngada regency, once the court issued a verdict for the case.
The ministry’s director general of natural resources and ecosystem conservation, Wiratno, said the police were working to uncover the criminal network.