Creating a Dragon’s Pride for Komodo National Park Rangers

Posted on Posted in Asia, Capacity Building, Indonesia, Reptiles

Komodo National Park (KNP), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard. Despite being a major tourist destination, it has been difficult for the park to develop an income-generating program that allows the 4,000 inhabitants within the protected area to gain economic benefit from tourism. The average level of education among the local villagers is the fourth grade; essentially no children have an education past the sixth grade. Basic training is greatly needed, even for the park rangers. Dr. Andy Phillips (President, formerly of White Elephant Conservation Science and Education Solutions), with over two decades of research experience on varanid lizards, developed a training program for park rangers designed to increase their knowledge about the biology of the dragons. In October, Dr. Phillips traveled to Indonesia to partner with Go Komodo and The Nature Conservancy and taught this program to KNP rangers using the Komodo Nature Guide Manual that he created. As the rangers frequently serve as interpretive guides, their increased knowledge not only helps tourists gain an appreciation for the dragons but also provides them with a greater sense of pride and purpose, and ultimately a higher earning potential for their work.

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