Threat to tokey gecko increases after new medical research


GUWAHATI, March 12, 2018: Following a new research which aims to replicate the adhesive quality of gecko feet in making non-invasive healing materials, the threat to tokey gecko has increased which was already on the radar of the illegal international wildlife trade.

A total of 18 tokay geckos were seized on Sunday from Chapanala area in Nagaon, with forest department officials saying such seizures are becoming increasingly common. The gecko was already known to be in demand for use in several controversial Chinese medicines.

A forest department source said, "Already in high demand for its availability in the forests and being easy to carry, the tokay gecko has a new threat. Researches are going on to artificially replicate the adhesive property of its feet to develop a reusable tape to use as a non-invasive injury healing material replacing conventional stitching or stapling items used for cuts or wounds."

The demand for the tokay gecko has shot up to such an extent that clandestine breeding centres have reportedly been set up in several high-altitude locations in Assam-Bhutan, Assam-Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur regions. The lizards which were seized on Sunday are allegedly from a similar rearing farm in Arunachal Pradesh.

"Poor farmers in the hill areas are provided with baby geckos by smugglers for rearing. Once the lizards grow up, they are taken back by the smugglers who pay the farmers handsomely," added sources.

 During Sunday's operation, Nagaon Police nabbed three persons identified as Sourav Gayan, Nipen Gogoi and Biplab Bora, who were allegedly trying to smuggle the lizards to Nagaland from where they would have been taken across the Myanmar border. One of the 18 geckos was dead.
"Over 103 geckos were seized in separate operations in November last year in Nagaon and Dhemaji districts. An adult gecko grown up to 40cm may fetch an astonishing amount up to Rs 10-20 lakh. Tokay gecko is used as a vital ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine known as Ge Jie, believed to nourish the kidneys and lungs. Legends also exist that it can cure deadly diseases like cancer. However, none of these beliefs are substantiated by medicinal science," sources said.
An investigation revealed that smugglers have been using Facebook to communicate with international racketeers. Though included in Schedule III of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act as a highly endangered animal, due to its non-inclusion in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List it is deprived from strong legal protection, said experts.
Source: Times of India
Featured image (courtesy): Pet info Club