Wildlife activists seek protection for hunted gecko species
KUALA LUMPUR—Wildlife activists on Wednesday called for the orange-spotted Tokay Gecko to be protected under international laws following a spike in smuggling of the lizard, mainly for medicine in China.
International wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said in a statement that the trade, both legal and illegal, in the gecko known for its blue-grey skin and loud croak was on the rise across Southeast Asia.
“Traffic is alarmed at the massive increase in trade of these geckos,” said Chris Shepherd, deputy director of Traffic Southeast Asia.
“If the trade continues to mushroom, it could take years to repair the damage currently being inflicted on gecko populations,” he added.
The animals are captured across Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines as well as Indonesia, according to a new report launched by Traffic, which points out their “rapacious collection.”
They are usually killed and dried, and shipped to China for use in traditional medicine billed to cure various diseases, including HIV and cancer. Tokay wine or whiskey is also sold as an energy booster.
“Recently… the medicinal demand for Tokay Geckos has skyrocketed, with dozens of new websites in Malaysia, a major hub of the trade, dedicated to buying and selling Tokay Geckos,” the statement said.
The Tokay Geckos, which can grow up to 40 centimeters (15.7 inches), are also popular pets.