Thailand plans to make the famous bent-toed geckos (Cyrtodactylus) a protected species.
The geckos are highly desired as a pet due to their unique stripes and striking colours. In some corners of South Asia, gecko saliva is also believed to cure diseases such as AIDS. The result is dwindling numbers and a threat of extinction.
Tuanjai Nujdamrong, director of the Wildlife Conservation Office, says the animal is being widely hunted throughout the country with the aim of being sold in Bangkok’s street markets. Its habitat is also being threatened by mining activity.
Next year, the bent-toed gecko will join 15 other species designated as reserved wild animals, including the Sumatran rhinoceros and Wild Asian water buffalo. After this time, anyone caught trading the species in Thailand could face up to four years imprisonment or a fine of up to 40,000 baht.