JAKARTA • Indonesia's Environment Ministry yesterday sought to calm outrage over construction of an island tourism project being dubbed "Jurassic Park", after an image went viral on social media of a Komodo dragon facing off against a big truck.
The picture of the lizard blocking the path of a big vehicle on Indonesia's Rinca Island prompted an outpouring of anger about perceived threats to the natural habitat of the vulnerable species.
The authenticity of the picture could not be immediately verified.
Mr Wiratno, a senior Environment Ministry official, said rangers would ensure the safety of Komodo dragons - the world's largest lizards - roaming near the construction areas.
Structures to be built include an elevated deck, a dam and an information centre, to be completed next June.
"They will intensively make checks of whether the Komodo dragons are under the buildings, remnants of buildings, and under the trucks carrying material," Mr Wiratno said.
Indonesia's Komodo dragon population is about 3,000, according to government data. The lizards can grow up to 3m long, have curved and serrated teeth, a yellow forked tongue, strong limbs and a long tail. They can take down prey as big as a water buffalo with a single venomous bite.
The project, which involves the country's Public Works and Housing Ministry, seeks to cater to visitors to Komodo National Park, where the creatures can be seen in the wild.
Internet users have likened the project to one on a dinosaur island featured in the Jurassic Park films.
The Public Works Ministry on Monday gave assurances about the safety of the Komodo dragons.
But environmentalists said the construction must stop.
"Komodo needs to be the main priority. They need to be protected in a designated area," said Mr Umbu Wulang Tanaamahu Paranggi, director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in East Nusa Tenggara. "What's going on now is a destruction of the dragons' living spaces."