Most people say that Komodo is in the edge of extinction. For some reasons, that opinion could be true. But in fact, it does not applied in the global condition where the dragons are distributed in islands with different conditions. The threats of their population in the National Park is different with their population in Flores Island. The island population within Komodo National Park will be different if compared one to another, depends on the size of the island. The Komodo population will be also different from 1970, when Walter Auffenberg researched 11 years before the Komodo National Park was established. Today, we have more comprehensive and accurate information about the dragon based on our research started in 1990s by Claudio Ciofi, continued by Tim S. Jessop in 2002, in collaboration with Indonesian government and finished in 2007. After that, their program was continued by Komodo Survival Program (KSP) until now. KSP was formed by Indonesian researchers that formerly work with Tim Jessop, and now Claudio Ciofi as well as Tim Jessop are continuing their roles as their scientific advisors.
Based on updated information of Komodo population, the conservation status of Komodo in IUCN is endangered. Since 1990s, Indonesian authorities has established a protection status for the dragon through National Decree (UU) no. 5 tahun 1990 and Peraturan Pemerintah no 7 tahun 1999. In the international wildlife trade, Komodo is listed to Appendix I CITES, which means the commercial trading of live speciments or any parts, dead or alive of Komodo is prohibited.
Komodo is also a National pride and National animal of Indonesia, through the Decree Keppres no 4 tahun 1992. It makes Komodo as a flagship species and gives a positive impact on Komodo international trading that requires permit from the President of Indonesia.
Priority and threats of Komodo population is different based on the each island’s condition. It is differed by the administrative area of Komodo National Park and Flores Island. The Komodo National Park has established for 40 years, protecting the dragons from several threats, specifically on threats caused by human activity (anthropogenic). However, the population in the small islands are also important such as Nusa Kode and Gili Motang island. Their small size of population, less prey (deer) and higher inbreeding factors lead them to be on the brink. We have to learn from Padar Island case, where once deer were overhunted and followed by the extinction of its Komodo’s population. Fortunately, after 30 years, with a better protection from KNP authority has made deer population on Padar fully recovered and Komodo dragon started to naturally recolonized Padar Island again in 2013. Komodo dragon population on Padar Island is now slowly recovered.
In the other side, even though Komodo dragon population in Flores protected areas (i.e. Wae Wuul Nature Reserve, Ontoloe Island and KEE Pota) are well protected and stable, this protected area only secures less than 15 % of total Komodo dragon habitats on Flores. The remaining 85% of habitats are located in un-protected areas, consequently, these komodo dragon are vulnerable to threats from human activities. First factor is the overhunting of deer, slash-and-burn agricultural method, and high competition with feral dogs which were introduced by human, whose settlements are present side by side with Komodo’s habitat. These factors lead a decrease and cornered Komodo population, and impact on livestock depredation and conflict with human is unavoidable.
Auffenberg, W. 1981. The Behavioural Ecology of the Komodo Monitor. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida.
Ciofi, C. and M. De Boer. 2004. Distribution and conservation of the Komodo monitor (Varanus komodoensis). Herpetological Journal 14: 99-107.
Jessop, T.S., T. Madsen, C. Ciofi, M.J. Imansyah, D. Purwandana, A. Ariefiandy. and J.A. Philips. 2006. Plastic dragons: A big predator’s responses to small islands. Report from CRES-ZSSD/BTNK/TNC.
Jessop, T.S., T. Madsen, J. Sumner, H. Rudiharto, J.A. Phillips, and C. Ciofi. 2006. Maximum body size among insular Komodo dragon populations covaries with large prey density. Oikos 112: 422–429.
Jessop, T.S., T. Madsen, C. Ciofi, M.J. Imansyah, D. Purwandana, H. Rudiharto, A. Ariefiandy. and J.A. Philips. 2007. Island differences in population size structure and catch per unit effort and their conservation implications for Komodo dragons. Biological conservation 135: 247-255.
Sulandari, S., M.S.A. Zein, A. Ariefiandy, D. Purwandana, M.J. Imansyah, T.S. Jessop, and C. Ciofi. 2013. Komodo dragon conservation genetic: Application of molecular genetic techniques to the conservation and management of the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis from Komodo National Park and Flores, Indonesia. 1st Project report. LIPI-KSP-TNK. Bogor-Labuan Bajo.
World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Varanus komodoensis. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
*The red logo of animal protection status is owned by ©IUCN Red List