Indian Golden Gecko, Eastern Ghats

Vishnupriya. S
Shashank Dalvi
The Indian Golden Gecko

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Eastern Ghats is not only home to the Golden gecko but also of several other interesting herpetofauna. This landscape has been very poorly documented in the past since most of the scientific attention is focused on the Western Ghats. Consequently, there are several discoveries waiting to be made from this region and just as many challenging conservation issues to tackle.

I had been visiting Kaigal, a village on the edge of Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh, since I was 15 years old. However, I only recently learnt that the geckos running around on the walls of the guest house there were none other than the Indian Golden Gecko (Calodactylodes aureus). The etymology (origin of the word) of its genus name Calodactylus comes from Latin: a word for beautiful fingers. This is because of the unique triangular lamellae on their feet which makes them very adept at sticking to vertical surfaces. This strikingly colored lizard is endemic to the Eastern Ghats of India. The species was virtually unknown for a long time till its rediscovery (in 1985) around 100 years after its original description. It also holds the distinction of being the only gecko to be categorized in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972).

Eastern Ghats is not only home to the Golden gecko but also of several other interesting herpetofauna. During our visit there last month, we were able to see 5 other species of geckos (including the massive Hemidactylus giganteus), Calotes, Lacertids, Chameleons and a sighting of the Sri Lankan Flying Snake (Chrysopelea taprobanica) which until recently was thought to be found only in Sri Lanka. This landscape has been very poorly documented in the past since most of the scientific attention is focused on the Western Ghats. Consequently, there are several discoveries waiting to be made from this region and just as many challenging conservation issues to tackle.

About the author

Vishnupriya. S
Vishnupriya. S, is an alumnus of the MSc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation Program (NCBS, WCS-India) and currently works with the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore.


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