Re-Mapping the Latest Distribution of Komodo Dragon

 

Komodo Survival Program curently conducting a-three year comprehensive survey to re-mapping the current distribution of Komodo dragon on the Island of Flores. Presence/absence of Komodo dragons were assessed by positioning wildlife monitoring passive infrared cameras in coastal dry deciduous Monsoon forest and savannah habitats. Komodo Survival Program also conducting training in wildlife monitoring techniques to Indonesian authority (BBKSDA), as a capacity building program to ensure the susitainable monitoring program in the future.

The survey is crucial to determine the actual number of Komodo dragon populations left in the wild, besides the well-known island populations of Komodo National Park, and it is of significant importance if populations are found in particularly isolated areas where local government initiative for specific conservation efforts may be implemented. An assessment of the current population distribution on Flores can provide background information for future population density estimates for reviewing protection status under IUCN criteria. The survey also serves to train personnel of BBKSDA and therefore help improving local expertise in wildlife monitoring techniques. Local people participated in the survey for scouting and to gain knowledge of the presence of Komodo dragons in their regions. Discovery of so far undescribed populations can also have a significant impact on local economy for possible implementation of ecotourism initiatives helping the sustainable development of more remote areas. Moreover, Komodo dragon distribution data collected during this three-year survey will be used as background information to undertake predictive habitat and species biophysical modelling to identify habitat areas (existing and future) that are likely to be most resilient to habitat change in view of developing additional protected areas for the species. 

By achieving the above goals we aim to consult directly with provincial and national government conservation managers to help implement a long term conservation vision for Komodo dragons. At the heart of this vision is to get government managers to understand that now is the time to act to develop a legislative framework necessary to develop a larger and more comprehensive system of habitat reserves to afford Komodo dragons the best opportunity to persist into the future.

The survey included the coastal area of northern Flores from the village of Boleng, about 15 km east of the town of Labuanbajo, to the hamlet of Belle on the Kotabaru peninsula. This region is classified as ustic (seasonally dry) from five to eight months a year, with average rainfall of less than 100 mm per month. The coast between the Detusoko peninsula and the village of Maurole, west of Kotabaru, is ardic (permanently dry) from nine to 12 months a year, with rainfall regime similar to the ustic region (Monk et al 1997). Maximum and minimum annual air temperatures are about 38 °C and 17 °C, respectively. Average annual temperature at sea level is approximately 30 °C.