Hallo Modo!

Until recently, visiting Komodo Island and getting a glimpse of its famed dragons would cost you a flight to Indonesia, a cruise or tour to Komodo National Park, and a small $10 USD admission fee. That’s about to change, though, as local authorities say the entrance fee may soon skyrocket to a shocking $1,000, as part of a new membership system designed to limit who is able to visit Komodo Island. Think the 1%.

The announcement follows some confusing (and admittedly, conflicting) concerns from the Indonesian government that rising visitor numbers have been putting the rare lizards at risk. In early 2019, the region’s governor Viktor Bungtili Laiskodat suggested that there was a decrease in lizard and prey numbers in Komodo National Park, and that a potential one-year closure of the entire park would be enacted so the animals could repopulate. Then, in March, news broke that a smuggling ring had sold more than 41 stolen Komodo dragons through Facebook, for a reported 500 million rupiah (over $35,000 USD), furthering concern. A July announcement followed, in which authorities confirmed that Komodo Island, one of several that make up the larger Komodo National Park, would close in January 2020.

Now, after several months, it seems authorities have decided that the dragons are not at risk, Reuters reports, so the closure is off—but the government would still like to restrict the number of visitors to the island, and plans to do so with a new membership program. So all this just tells me to tell you to go now!

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