Monday, May 09, 2011 11:51 AM
Over a thousand geckos discovered in the trunk of a taxi in Cambodia. Photo courtesy of Wildlife Alliance.

May 08, 2011
Jeremy Hance

Over a thousand tokay geckos (Gekko gecko) were found in a single trunk of a taxi by the Wildlife Rapid Response Team (WRRT), forestry officials, and military police in Cambodia. WRRT is wildlife-crimes program run by Wildlife Alliance.

Boxes filled the taxi’s trunk. In the boxes were bags stuffed with 1,027 tokay geckos, of which nineteen had perished.

"[The tokay geckos] were likely going to be turned into food or possibly dried out for use in traditional medicines. There are also reports that Malaysian syndicates are buying them to fight them in rings, with onlookers gambling on the results," reads a blog from Wildlife Alliance on the incident.

Both the alleged wildlife trafficker and the taxi driver, a relative of the trafficker, were apprehended. The pair do not face jail time as the species is not considered endangered, however they face a maximum fine of three times the market value of the species, in this case nearly $4,000.

The surviving thousand-plus lizards were returned to the wild.

Native to much of tropical Asia, tokay geckos are considered generally common, although they have not been evaluated by the IUCN Red List. In some parts of the world they have been introduced and thus are considered pesky invasive species. However in their native habitat, they help keep insect numbers in check.


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