Monday, August 24, 2009

Gold mining threatens the Komodo dragon

A row has taken off in Indonesia over whether or not to allow gold mining near Komodo National Park, home to the infamous, venomous, and largest of all lizards, the Komodo dragon. Eight mines have currently been proposed, several have already begun exploratory work. Critics of the gold mines contend that the mining threatens the ecology of the park and the Komodo dragon, listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

The local government and members of the national government have argued that the mine is far enough away not to impact the park. One of the mining sites has already come under investigation for allegedly violating environmental regulations. Officials visited the Chinese-backed exploratory mine on Batugosok Island saying that the digging began before the approval of an environmental assessment.

Although it's the headliner, the Komodo dragon is not the only endangered inhabitant of Komodo National Park. Its main source of prey the Timor deer Cervus timorensis is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN as well. In addition, nearly 70 percent of the park is marine environment. Created in 1980 over several islands, the park contains half of the world's Komodo dragons.

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