Poaching of Asian Geckos Increased in India

Geckos are lizards belonging to the infraorder Gekkota, found in warm climates throughout the world. They range from 1.6 to 60 cm (0.64 to 24 inches). Most geckos cannot blink, but they often lick their eyes to keep them clean and moist. They have a fixed lens within each iris that enlarges in darkness to let in more light.

The common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus), is a reptile native of Southeast Asia. It is also known as the Pacific house gecko, the Asian house gecko, house lizard, or Moon Lizard.

North-eastern states of India have now become the hub for selling endangered species of lizards or ‘tokay gecko’. Each one of the live animal, which are usually 40 centimeter long is sold between 50-80 lakhs in market.

These are generally smuggled to China as it uses it for Chinese medicines. Geckos are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cancer, asthma, diabetes, skin disorders etc.

Geckos are listed in Schedule III of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, as a ‘highly endangered animal’.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is enacted by the Indian Parliament for the protection of the Indian Wildlife. Hunting of the rare animals as well as cutting of the rare plants is banned under this act. This act has six ‘Schedules’ which give varying grades of protection.

Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II give the completesecurity to the animals listed under them. In these Schedules, one has to pay huge penalties for the offense.

Schedule III and IV also protect the wildlife species listed under them, but the fines are not as high as the Schedule I and II.

Schedule V gives the list of the animals which are allowed to be hunted.

The plants listed in Schedule VI are banned from planting and cultivating.

Enforcement of the penalties can be performed by the agencies like the Police, Forest Department, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Customs. Forest Department can directly file the charge-sheets.