Kupang: The East Nusa Tenggara provincial government is cooperating with Kupang-based Nusa Cendana University (Undana) in conducting a research on the habitat of komodo dragons in the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai district.
"Our cooperation with a team of Undana researchers is an important part of the management of komodo habitat to ensure the survival of the animal species in the future," Secretary of the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government Benediktus Polo Maing said here on Wednesday.
As part of the preparations for the research, heads of relevant institutions of the provincial government has held a meeting with the Undana research team and the natural resources conservation agency.
The cooperation is also aimed at following up on the plan to shut down the Komodo National Park on January 1, 2020.
The habitat of komodo, which is one of the new seven wonders and has been declared as world heritage by UNESCO should be studied properly to ensure the survival of the animal species, he said.
The study will focus on the condition and health of komodo, the availability of food, natural resources and ecosystem around the Komodo Natoional Park, he said.
"The results of the research conducted by Undana will hopefully serve as a reference to make concrete policies from the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government and the relevant ministries," he said.
Undana deputy rector for cooperation affairs Ir.I Wayan, S.Sc, Ph.D, said the university has internally prepared a research team to conduct the research.
"In principle, we support the plan to temporarily close down Komodo Island for which we are prepared to support the government's policies through the results of the research," he said.
The Komodo Island will be closed for conservation purposes from next year, and the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government will directly oversee the management to facilitate more comprehensive supervision, he added.
Komodo Island's closure has triggered widespread speculations and reactions in the Tourism Ministry, with its minister Arief Yahya, early this year, unequivocally objecting the plan, deeming it as irrelevant.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has expressed approval to East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor Laskodat 's suggestion to close down Komodo Island to embark on a conservation program, the province's spokesman, Mariius Ardu Jelamu, confirmed in recently Kupang (capital of East Nusa Tenggara province).
As a response to Governor Laiskodat's proposal, President Jokowi had also called on Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya to adopt prompt measure to shut down the island, the natural home of komodo dragons (varanus komodoensis), he remarked.
Komodo Island is one of the main islands in the Komodo National Park, situated close to Labuan Bajo, one of the 10 priority tourist destinations outlined by the central government as the "New Bali." (Bali is Indonesia's prime tourist destination).
The nine other destinations are Borobudur Temple in Central Java; Mandalika on Lombok Island, West Nusa Tenggara; Bromo-Tengger-Semeru in East Java; Pulau Seribu in North Jakarta; Lake Toba in North Sumatra; Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi; Tanjung Lesung in Banten; Morotai in the northern region of Halmahera in the Maluku Islands; and Tanjung Kelayang in Belitung, Bangka Belitung. (Antara)