LifestyleEndangered Komodo lizard seized in illegal trade crackdown in Indonesia. Animal was hidden in a sock

Endangered Komodo lizard seized in illegal trade crackdown in Indonesia. Animal was hidden in a sock

Komodo dragons live, among other places, on Komodo Island.
Komodo dragons live, among other places, on Komodo Island.
Images source: © Adobe Stock
ed. SYK
3:48 PM EST, November 8, 2023

A man has been apprehended by Indonesian customs officers for attempting to smuggle a young Komodo monitor lizard out of the country. The lizard was found wrapped in his sock and concealed within a backpack.

In Labuan Bajo, a port town in Indonesia, customs officers foiled a smuggling attempt of a monitor lizard to the island of Bali.

Lizard found tightly bound in sock with mouth sealed

A surprise inspection of a truck carrying bananas exposed one passenger attempting to conceal a lizard. The lizard was bundled in a sock, tucked in his backpack with its mouth taped shut.

The man was among seven suspects arrested for smuggling. Tragically, despite the intervention of customs officials, the young monitor lizard died.

Continuous struggle with smuggling

Labuan Bajo, a town situated on the Indonesian island of Flores within the Lesser Sunda Islands East province, serves as the main hub for the Komodo National Park. Budi Guna Putra, deputy local police chief, told the Bali Detik portal that attempted smuggling of monitor lizards has been a consistent issue, with the incident on October 30th being the most recent of many.

Komodo dragons are endangered.
Komodo dragons are endangered.© Adobe Stock
Smuggling of these lizards has been a common occurrence and a continuous challenge for Indonesian authorities for several years now – Budi Guna Putra reports.

The black market price of a live monitor lizard can reach up to 28 million Indonesian rupees (roughly $528), making them a prime target for smugglers. Particularly, the sea route from Labuan Bajo to Bali has been a common smuggling pathway.

In 2019, concerns surrounding the situation prompted serious deliberation of closing the island of Komodo to tourists for a year to facilitate conservation efforts. However, the decision to close the island was not taken. Instead, restrictions were placed on visitor numbers and the entrance fees to the Komodo National Park were increased.

The existence of Komodo monitor lizards threatened

The Indonesian government has been promoting Komodo as one of five tourist destinations in an attempt to relieve some pressure off the extremely popular Bali. The strategy has succeeded beyond expectations. Currently, the island hosts as many as 200,000 visitors annually.

In 2019, the Komodo National Park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its primary attraction is the monitor lizards, also known as Komodo dragons, due to their unique look. These creatures are the world's largest lizards, with adults growing up to nine feet long and weighing around 220 pounds. Currently, the park is home to about 3,000 of these lizards. However, their population is dwindling yearly, placing Komodo monitor lizards on the list of species at risk of extinction.

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