Today is the 37th anniversary of Komodo National Park! Celebrate it with a
Komodo National Park is located in
the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of
Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose
of the Park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon (Varanus
komodoensis) and its habitat. However, over the years, the goals
for the Park have expanded to protecting its entire biodiversity,
both terrestrial and marine. In 1986, the Park was declared a World
Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO,
both indications of the Park's biological importance.
Komodo National Park includes three
major islands: Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller
islands creating a total surface area (marine and land) of 1817km
(proposed extensions would bring the total surface area up to 2,321km2).
As well as being home to the Komodo dragon, the Park provides refuge
for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed
scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. Moreover, the Park
includes one of the richest marine environments including coral
reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, seamounts, and semi-enclosed bays.
These habitats harbor more than 1,000 species of fish, some 260
species of reef-building coral, and 70 species of sponges. Dugong,
sharks, manta rays, at least 14 species of whales, dolphins, and
sea turtles also make Komodo National Park their home.
Threats to terrestrial biodiversity
include the increasing pressure on forest cover and water resources
as the local human population has increased 800% over the past 60
years. In addition, the Timor deer population, the preferred prey
source for the endangered Komodo dragon, is still being poached. Destructive
fishing practices such as dynamite-, cyanide, and compressor fishing
severely threaten the Park's marine resources by destroying both
the habitat (coral reefs) and the resource itself (fish and invertebrate
stocks). The present situation in the Park is characterized by reduced
but continuing destructive fishing practices primarily by immigrant
fishers, and high pressure on demersal stocks like lobsters, shellfish,
groupers and napoleon wrasse. Pollution inputs, ranging from raw
sewage to chemicals, are increasing and may pose a major threat
in the future.
Today, the PKA Balai Taman Nasional
Komodo and PT. Putri Naga Komodo are working together
to protect the Park's vast resources. Our goals are to protect the
Park's biodiversity (both marine and terrestrial) and the breeding
stocks of commercial fishes for replenishment of surrounding fishing
grounds. The main challenge is to reduce both threats to the resources
and conflicts between incompatible activities. Both parties have
a long term commitment to protecting the marine biodiversity of
Komodo National Park.