03/07/2011 09:48 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Komodo Dragon Tourism Being Promoted In Indonesia Without Concern For Safety

KOMODO ISLAND, Indonesia -- "Keep your distance, keep silent and secure all your belongings," whispered Ande Kefi, a ranger at Komodo National Park, a collection of three small islands in eastern Indonesia that are home to the world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon.

Wielding a long, two-pronged wooden stick, Kefi and the other rangers went in search of a creature distinguished by its rarity -- only around 2,500 exist in the wild -- and prehistoric appearance. Kefi said the sticks serve as their "guns," used to prod the lizards in sensitive spots should they come within striking distance.

He gives the same instructions each time he leads visitors on a trek around Komodo and neighboring Rinca island, where dusty brown hills are capped with the star-like bursts of palm trees. Visitors say the scrub brush savannah and rough tropical grassland reminds them of Jurassic Park. Indeed, the park named for the ancient creature (Komodo means dragon in Indonesian) is the only place in the world where people can see today's modern dinosaurs in the wild.

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