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Abstract

Large carnivores are key visitor attractions in protected areas, but are difficult to see. Thus, supplementary feeding is sometimes used to attract them to viewing sites. Such intervention is contentious but its effects have rarely been examined. This paper analyses a case study of supplementary feeding in Komodo National Park, Indonesia. Using data from daily and annual Komodo dragon censuses, feeding records and financial accounts, the effects of feeding and its cessation on dragon numbers, tourist viewing opportunities and local community benefits were examined. Regular feeding caused dragon numbers to increase at the feeding site, but not year-round. Cessation of feeding caused numbers to decline again to natural levels. However, tourists were less likely to see dragons at the feeding site after cessation, and local community revenues declined with the loss of a market for goats. Solutions lie in finding less intrusive means for tourists to view dragons, and enabling local people to become involved in tourism through training, recruitment and the development of alternative markets.