Kamis, 30/04/2009

Komodo Island: ‘Jurassic Park’ of Indonesia

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Komodo Island: ‘Jurassic Park’ of Indonesia

AFTER FAILING TO PRESS Borobudur Temple into the world’s Seven Wonders, the Indonesian government is now trying hard to include its ‘Jurassic Park’ in the world’s Seven Wonders. The New 7 Wonders Foundation is said to be considering making Komodo National Park one of the Seven Wonders. How big are the potentials of Komodo Island in terms of tourism?

The hard work of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism should be supported by all parties in Indonesia, not merely those from the tourism sector but also the general public. Why is it so? This is because, if Komodo Park is included in the Seven Wonders, it will have so big impacts on the Indonesian tourism sector. Many visitors will no doubt come to the place, which is located between Sumbawa and Flores islands.


According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the government had earlier tried promote Borobudur Temple in Central Java to the New 7 Wonders Foundation. But, its voting results did not put the magnificent temple into the Seven Wonders. And early this year, Indonesia proposed Komodo Islands to be included in the Seven Wonders. Reports from www.new7wonder.com said a total of 222 countries nominated 261 tourist destinations to be made one of the Seven Wonders. By July 7, 2008, there were 77 prominent nominees, which ranked 1-11 and fell under seven categories.

Later, they were cut to 21 candidates, or three for each category. And in September 2009, the New 7 Wonders Foundation will decide the Seven Wonders. But, Komodo seems to have compete with other strong candidates from the E category (forest, national park, and nature reserves). The government has to work hard because the island has to compete with national parks from other counties like Puerto Princesa, Amazon, Sundarbans, Tree of Life, Bialowieza Forest, Balck Forest, Retezat National Park, Dinosaur Park, Chiristmas Island, Eua National Park, Okawangu Delta, and El Kala National Park – all competing with each other to be included in the Sven Wonders. When this article was being prepared late last month, Komodo was 17th in the New 7 Wonders Foundation’s voting list. On top of the list were, by rank, Puerto Princesa, Amazon and Sundarbans Forest.

Whether or not the Indonesian government is serious enough in winning support for including Komodo National Park in the Seven Wonders, we should first find out its potentials as one of Indonesia’s notable tourist destinations. Located between the western tip of Flores Island in East Nusa Tenggara Province and the eastern tip of Sumbawa Island in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Komodo National Park was established in 1980 with an aim to protect the rare Komodo dragon (Varanus Komodoensis).

Later it was dedicated to protecting other species including marine species. In 1986, the 1,817 sqm park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors wishing to come to the island can take these routes: They can fly with Merpati Nusantara Arlines from Jakarta to Denpasar and then from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo in western Flores. From Labuan Bajo they can reach Komodo using a speed boat. Through the window of Merpati aircraft they can clearly see Komodo Island whose land is dominated by the yellowish savannah and the arid red soil. Uniquely, the island has beautiful coastlines.

To date, around 2,500 Komodo dragons live on the island. The Komodo dragons devour different sorts of animals including wild buffaloes, deer and even small and big Komodo dragons. Their super-sensitive tongues can smell bloods even one kilometer away. They way they catch their preys is lying down and trying to look lazy and careless. When their preys approach they attack them swiftly. If the attacked animals are still not yet overpowered, the dragons spree them with their saliva that contains killing bacteria.

Beside Komodo dragons, visitors also can find other kinds of wild birds on the island like cockatoo with yellow crest and ‘gosong’ birds. Tourist facilities are available on Komodo including toilets, souvenir shops and greeting halls that look so nice and clean and whose minimalist structure is dominated by wooden elements.

Tourist facilities

Their quality is similar to tourist facilities in foreign countries. All those facilities were jointly built by an NGO, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Komodo National Park and government firm Putri Naga Komodo. The joint venture aims to preserve the Komodo nature and develop the island into a self-supporting ecotourism center. Also, Komodo’s marine life is highly attractive.

According to a survey conducted by The Nature Conservancy, which has carried out conservation activities on the island for quite sometime, it has abundant biodiversity and coral reefs. Visitors can find at least 1,000 species of fish, 385 species of coral reefs, 70 species of sponge, and 16 species of whale and dolphin. Not surprisingly, Komodo is currently one of the world’s best scuba-diving sites. At the moment, around 4,000 people inhabit Komodo. They are spread in four villages namely Komodo, Rinca, Kerora and Papagaran.

They were built before 1980 when Komodo was officially made a national park. Most villagers hail from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai (Flores) and South Sulawesi. The villagers are actively involved in the preservation of Komodo Island. The various challenges faced in the tourist site include uncontrollable growth of the island’s population and tourism development up to the damaging fishing methods like the using of bombs, ‘harimau’ nets and excess fishing. Once the ecosystem is damaged, dozens and even hundreds of years will be required to get the Komodo nature back to normal. Compared with other national parks, which are competing with others to become the ‘most wonderful’ place in the world, Komodo Island actually has extraordinary potentials.

At the moment, the real problem is not whether or not the island will be included in the Seven Wonders, but whether or not the government is serious in developing tourist sites in Indonesia. If we become more serious, they will have very big impacts on the country’s tourism sector. If so, such places not necessarily become the most wonderful ones. (Deddy H. Pakpahan)