Despite global opposition, Indonesia has begun constructing a multi-million dollar Jurassic Park-style tourist attraction on Rinca Island, which is home to most of the world's 4,000 Komodo dragons, the largest lizards in the world.
Work on the $6.5 million projects is now in progress at the 1.3-hectare geopark inside the Komodo National Park on Rinca. The Indonesian government has revealed plans to construct a new "Y-shaped" dock for tourist boats and a large circular concrete structure that will allow visitors to walk around the park and view the poisonous dragons from an elevated dock.
Media reports say rangers have been called-in to keep curious Komodo dragons from intruding into the construction site, said Al Jazeera.
Last month, authorities unveiled a proposal to build a tourist attraction on Rinca, which Indonesian media quickly called "Jurassic Park" after architects released a promotional video of the project set to music from the Jurassic Park movie.
Opposition to this Jurassic Park has been loud and global.
"The idea to build a Jurassic Park is honestly embarrassing," said Gregorius Afioma, an activist at local social justice NGO Sunspirit.
"People come here to see komodos in their natural habitat ... these people are selling a concept where (visitors) can walk around indoors to see komodo dragons, which to me is no different than a zoo," he added.
UNESCO, the United Nations body that promotes world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture, has "requested information from the Government of Indonesia concerning these new development plans." It reminds Indonesia "of the need for impact assessments to be submitted before plans are taken forward." The Komodo National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Indonesian authorities are baffled by opposition to the Rinca tourist development.
Kita Awang Nistyantara, head of the Komodo National Park, said the local authorities had studied the behavior of the Komodo dragons for years, and they are confident the development will not disturb the animals or disrupt their habitat.
"The construction is being done very carefully - we haven't even cut down a single tree," he claimed.
"We always go with the workers to make sure the wildlife are not disturbed."
Inung Wiratno from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said Indonesia wants "to go into the premium, world-class tourism category. The Komodo dragon is like the panda -- highly respected -- and this is the only location in the world that has them."
"We are not damaging anything, we are improving the facilities and visitor management."