Peoples and Villages in Komodo National Park
There are four villages located within the park. These are Komodo, Rinca, Kerora, and Papagaran. All villages existed prior to 1980 before the area was declared a national park (Pagarang was included in the Park with the new borders of 1998, before that it was situated in the Buffer Zone of the Park). In 1928 there were only 30 people living in Komodo Village, and approximately 250 people on Rinca Island in 1930. The population increased rapidly, and by 1977 there were 529 people in Komodo village and 756 people on Rinca. As of 1999, there were 281 families containing 1,169 people on Komodo (Table 4.1), meaning that the local population had increased exponentially. Papagarang village is similar in size, with 258 families containing 1,078 people. Rinca and Kerora are smaller in size. As of 1999, Rinca’s population was 835, and Kerora contained 185 people. The total population currently living in the park is approximately 3, 267 people. Approximately 16,816 people were living in the immediate surrounding area in Flores, NTT and Sape, NTB, in 1998.
Komodo National Park is located in Kecamatan Komodo, Kabupaten Manggarai Nusa Tenggara Timur. An extension is planned into Kecamatan Sape, Kabupaten Bima, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Based on data from 1997, Kecamatan Komodo contained 17 desa with a total population of 33,001 people. As of 2000, there were 21 desa in Kecamatan Sape with a total population of 77,857 (BPS Kabupaten Bima, 2000). In terms of administrative units in KNP, there are three desa inside the park area, Desa Komodo, Desa Pasir Panjang (except kampung Kukusan), and Desa Papagaran. Before 1997, Desa Papagaran was administratively under Desa Komodo and located in the buffer zone outside the National Park Boundary. A revision of the park boundaries in 1998 now includes Papagaran as a new desa within the park boundaries. The majority of the people in and around KNP are fisherman originally from Bima (Sumbawa), Manggarai, South Flores, and South Sulawesi. Those from South Sulawesi are from the Suku Bajau or Bugis ethnic groups. The Suku Bajau were originally nomadic and moved from location to location in the region of Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara and Maluku, to make their livelihoods. Descendents of the original people of Komodo, the Ata Modo, still live in Komodo but there are no pure blood people left and their culture and language is slowly being integrated with the recent migrants.
Little is known of the early history of the Komodo islanders. They were subjects of the Sultanate of Bima, although the island’s remoteness from Bima meant its affairs were probably little troubled by the Sultanate other than by occasional demand for tribute. Until 1982 it was believed that Komodo islanders were simply Bimanese who had settled on the island for trading reasons or because they had been exiled there. However, recent research has shown that both the language and social organization of the Komodo people are sufficiently different from those of Sumbawa for the islanders to be considered a separate ethnic group, the Ata Komodo. These original inhabitants are now thought to comprise only 18% of the population of the island, with the rest composed of other groups such as Bajo and Buginese.
Komodo Village has had the highest population increase of the villages within Komodo National Park, mostly due to in-migration by people from Sape, Manggarai, Madura, and South Sulawesi. The number of buildings has also increased rapidly. In 1958 there were only 30 houses. As of 1994 there were 194 houses, and in 2000 there were 270 houses. Some of the recent buildings do not use traditional style or building techniques. Most of the people living in Kampung Rinca are Bajo and Komodo. In-migration has been primarily from Bima/Sape, Manggarai, Selayar and Ende. Kampung Kerora has the smallest population of the communities located within the Park. Kampung Kerora was established in 1955 by migrants from Warloka Village, Flores. Most people in Kampung Kerora are from Manggarai, Bajo and Bima. Papagarang island has been used as an area of temporary settlement for fisherman drying fish and other marine biota, but is now an official desa. The majority of the people here are Bajau, Komodo, and Bima traders and several are teachers from Manggarai.