Sunday, October 23, 2011


     Komodo Island located in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is the only island in the world which has komodo dragons, the giant lizards. The Komodo National Park includes the three larger islands Komodo, Rinca and Padar, as well as numerous smaller ones, altogether covering a total area of 1,817 square kilometers.
      The national park was founded in 1980 to protect the Komodo dragon. Later, it was also dedicated to protecting other species, including marine animals. The islands of the national park are of volcanic origin.
       The memorandum of understanding on the free services of SMS voting to support Komodo was signed by Vice President M Jusuf Kalla with the telecommunications operators in Jakarta on October 14, 2011.
      "This is the cheapest way to strengthen the national unity. More than that, the SMS voting is a democratic way to vote," Kalla, former vice president concurrently and the ambassador for Komodo, and the chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), said on the occasion.
     The people of Indonesia, one of the world`s leading mobile texting countries, can send KOMODO to 9818, to vote for Komodo Island as a candidate of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Each SMS text sent by voters will contribute Rp1 to be paid by sponsors for the promotion of the unique and biodiversity-rich island.

Voting for the New7Wonders of Nature will end on 11 November 2011 (11/11/11) at 11:11 am GMT, which is around 18 days from Sunday (Oct 23), and the preliminary results will be announced later that day.

"We need at least 25 million SMS to win the contest. Given the fact that around 160 million Indonesians have cellular phones, I am confident we could win," Jusuf Kalla said.

He expressed his hope that the inclusion of Komodo Island in the New7Wonders list would help improve the economy of NTT, which has so far considered the country`s least developed province.

"Besides helping preserve Komodo whichs is now endangered animal, the victory could help increase the income of NTT`s inhabitants," he said.

Kalla, who visited Komodo Island on October 4, 2011, has been tirelessly campaigning for Komodo by asking people to join the SMS voting, when he was visiting various regions such as when he was in Balikpapan (East Kalimantan), and his home town of Makassar (South Sulawesi) recently.

Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself has called on the Indonesian people to vote for Komodo in its race to be included in the New7Wonders of Nature list.

After inaugurating the Lombok International Air Port, in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), on October 20, 2011, the president also asked ministers and guests attending the ceremony to give their votes for Komodo.

"Please type Komodo and send it to 9818," the President said in the event which was also attended by Kalla.

Yudhoyono is not the only head of state campaigning for the his country`s finalist of the New7Wonders.

President Ollanta Humala of Peru had urged his people to vote for the Amazon, which is shared by Peru along with Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela.

In Warsaw, three presidents of Poland, Lech Wa?esa, Bronis?aw Komorowski and Aleksander Kwa?niewski, came together with the president of New7Wonders, Bernard Weber, in a display of solidarity with the Polish Finalist in the New7Wonders of Nature, the Masurian Lake District.

And in Lebanon, President Michel Sleiman had visited Jeita Grotto and, after casting his vote, he urged Lebanese at home and abroad to vote for their Finalist in the New7Wonders of Nature.

"Together Peru, Indonesia, Poland and the Lebanon comprise a joint population of 309 million people, and the fact that the New7Wonders of Nature can unite their leaders in a shared democratic exercise is proof of the campaign`s ability to inspire global cooperation," the New Seven Wonders Foundation wrote on its official website.

Emmy Hafild of the P2Komodo (Supporting Committee for Komodo Island) said recently that the inclusion of Komodo Island is important for the sustainable economic development of NTT.

Up to 42,000 foreign tourists have come to Komodo Tourist Resort in Labuhan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, so far this year.

"The number is an increase of 30 percent to that of last year which was recorded at only 25,000," head of promotion section of the local tourism and culture service, Bonafantura Rumat, said recently in NTT.

He said the increase of foreign tourist arrivals in the past few months was the result of promotion and the nomination of the huge lizard resort as a candidate of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Bonafantura said despite some shortcomings the number of star-rated hotels available in the region had been quite sufficient. There are already two three star-rated hotels and one four star-rated hotel in the region.

He said however that other supporting infrastructure such as roads, bridges as well as land and air transport still needed to be improved. Komodo Island has a capacity to accommodate some 60,000 tourists annually.

"The airport meanwhile is not yet able to accommodate wide-body aircraft," he said. But sea transport service has been quite adequate as some foreign tourists have come aboard a private cruise ship to the region, he said.

Participation in the New7Wonders of Nature race is not the end of the Komodo promotion.

The East Nusa Tenggara administration has planned to hold a Komodo Festival at Pede Beach, Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai District, NTT Province, from July to December 2012.

The six-month festival is expected to optimally promote Komodo National Park, HA Haris, the head of the NTT culture and tourism office`s promotion unit, said in Kupang, NTT, on October 21, 2011.

"It does not matter whether Komodo is included in the list of the New7Wonders of Nature or not. We have been preparing this festival to attract tourists to Komodo, which has been internationally known," he said.

During the festival, the NTT administration will organize a number of art and cultural performances, and competitions such as rowing boat contest to be participated in by local fishermen living surrounding Komodo National Park.

There will also be competitions of 10 Komodo (10K) marathon, diving, snorkeling, fishing, flute, trekking, and a traditional culinary festival to highlight the Komodo festival.

The Komodo dragon, Varanus komodoensis, is to be found in the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang and Gili Dasami, which are part of the Komodo National Park.

In 1986, the Komodo National Park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the Park`s biological importance.

A member of the monitor lizard family (Varanidae), Komodo dragon is the largest living species of lizard, growing to a maximum of length three meters and weighing up to around 70 kilograms.***6***


(T.F001/A/F001/A/A014) 23-10-2011 23:22:51

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