Indonesian zoo breeds dozens of endangered baby Komodo dragons
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An Indonesian zoo has welcomed dozens of new baby Komodo dragons hatched in captivity in recent months as part of a breeding programme, its director said Tuesday, offering hope for efforts to conserve the endangered species.
The world's largest living lizards are found only in Indonesia's World Heritage-listed Komodo National Park and neighbouring Flores, and just 3,458 adult and baby species are left in the wild according to estimates.
The fearsome reptiles, which can grow to three metres (10 feet) in length and weigh up to 90 kilograms (200 pounds), are threatened by human activity and climate change destroying their habitat.
Female Komodos can fertilise an egg without the need for a male dragon.
The zoo started the programme in the 1990s as part of the effort to conserve the species in a city located more than 700 kilometres (434 miles) away from the dragon's natural habitat.
In a report last year, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warned the endangered species' habitat was expected to shrink by 30 percent in the next 45 years due to rising sea levels.
"Komodo Island is still working to rejuvenate the forests," which feed the dragon's declining natural prey such as deer, he said.