Komodo National Park

Komodo National Park

Location: Lesser Sunda Islands Map

Area: 1,733 km² (603 km² land)


The Komodo National Park (Indonesian Taman Nasional Komodo) is located in Indonesia, in the area of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the border area of the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and West Nusa Tenggara.

It includes the three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones, with a total land area of 603 km², with a total area of the national park of 1817 km².

The park was established in 1980, initially only as a sanctuary for the Komodo dragon. Later it was dedicated to the preservation of all flora and fauna, also in the maritime area. The waters around the islands are home to 1000 species of fish, 260 species of reef corals, 70 different sponges, 17 species of whales and dolphins, and two species of sea turtles. Since the protection measures began, dynamite fishing has ceased and the area covered by coral has increased by 60 percent. The park is popular with divers because of its biodiversity.

The park's larger mammals are of Asian origin. The maned deer is the main prey of the Komodo dragon. There are also wild boar, cynomolgus monkeys, civets (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus lehmanni), water buffalo and horses. A special feature is the endemic rat Komodomys rintjanus/Rattus rintjanus.

The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin. In its area live about 4000 inhabitants in four settlements. In 1991 the national park was recognized by UNESCO as a natural world heritage site. The town of Labuan Bajo in Flores is the starting point for most travelers.



Komodo dragons are the main attraction for tourists in Komodo National Park. Currently 3,267 people live in four villages within the Komodo National Park and 16,816 people live directly around the park (as of 2007). Tourism began in the 1980s with the founding of the national park, around 30,000 tourists were counted in 1995/96, 93% of them foreigners, mostly Dutch, German, English, Americans and Australians.

So far Komodo has almost exclusively been developed for tourism and most guests make a day trip to the island as part of a holiday in Southeast Asia. In 1995/96, tourists spent an estimated US$1.1 million around Komodo National Park. It is criticized that only about 1% of this money goes to its residents - the majority of the sum is turned over in the two places from which it can be reached: Labuan Bajo on Flores and Sape on Sumbawa. However, according to a 1996 survey, most of the population were keen on tourism: 92.7% said they would be happy to see more tourists. However, there were also voices that tourism was damaging the culture of the Lesser Sunda Islands and that products and services were becoming more expensive. 47.4% of the average poor population complained that only residents who were already rich would benefit, and 27.3% stated that their families would not benefit noticeably from tourism.

Also controversial is the practice of using slaughtered goats to attract the Komodo dragons, which are difficult to observe, to special “viewing sites” for tourists. Because the Komodo dragons become strongly attached to these sites and occur in high concentrations, spatial behavior could be significantly affected, favoring intraspecific aggression, or the animals associate humans with food and attack them in anticipation of food. On the other hand, selling goats as bait brings local people up to a third of their profits from tourism.