Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tokay! Tokay!

Photographed in Kaeng Krachan (แก่งกระจาน)
The tokay gecko is one of the largest geckos found in Asia. They range from northeast India to the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Guess what? They are found in Singapore too but you will have to be very lucky to spot one as these lizards are nocturnal.
They can grow up to 40 cm. Unfortunately for them, they are popular in the pet trade, and in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) trade. These geckos are believed to cure various illnesses including diabetes, asthma, cough, skin disease and cancer.Some say HIV too.
According to Traffic, more than 8.5 tonnes of dried tokay geckos were legally imported into the US for use in traditional medicine between 1998 and 2002. This does not include the numbers that are traded within Asia to meet demand, especially in China (April 11, 2013 update from Traffic).
Photographed in Singapore
Rude truth: Tokay geckos are not farmed but are taken from the wild. If the trade in geckos are not managed, the tokay gecko is likely to join many other species already on the endangered list.

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