Tokay Gecko — The Million-rupee Reptile

by S Karthikeyan
S Karthikeyan
Above an adult Tokay Gecko and below a juvenile. Both photographed in Agartala, Tripura by the author.

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

This gecko remains poorly protected by national legislation throughout most of its range and is not listed for protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is one of the largest geckos in the country and the world; at about 15 inches the males are gigantic! This is a nocturnal arboreal gecko, ranging from northeast India, to Nepal and Bangladesh, throughout Southeast Asia, Philippines to Indonesia and western New Guinea. They are very colourful lizards too.

Occurring in the rainforests, it is primarily a tree-dweller. However, they have adapted well to human habitations where they can be seen on walls of houses, hiding in a variety of places during the day. Their call which is a loud ‘to-kay’ can be heard from afar and gives them their name. In captivity, the Tokays are known to live for as long as 18 years however they live for 7-10 years under natural conditions.

In recent times, however, the survival of the Tokay Gecko is seriously threatened. Increasing urbanization is reducing its range. But more threatening is the massive trade across its range because of unfounded claims as a cure for AIDS. In India (especially the Northeast) with upto a million rupees being offered for a Tokay Gecko, for many it has now become lucrative to trade in these lizards. Click here to see recent news reports of trade in Tokay Gecko.

According to TRAFFIC, the Tokay Gecko remains poorly protected by national legislation throughout most of its range and is not listed for protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Read more about Tokay Geckos on Animal Diversity Web.

About the author

S Karthikeyan
Karthikeyan is the chief naturalist of Jungle Lodges & Resorts based in Bangalore.


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