The seizure of two tokay gecko lizards from the possession of a person in the city today has once again laid bare the growing threat faced by lesser wildlife in the clandestine trade of wildlife body parts.
City Police today arrested N Deben Singh and recovered two tokay gecko lizards. The seizure of a number of lizards in the city in the recent past strongly indicates that Guwahati is fast turning into a conduit for smuggling of the tokay gecko.
Conservationists believe that a strong deterrent mechanism is the need of the hour to put a curb on the growing extent of the nefarious business that is increasingly targeting Assam and other parts of the North-east.
Matters have been made worse by the involvement of armed militant groups in wildlife trade – something corroborated by the arrest of a militant outfit chief and seizure of a tokay gecko lizard in the city last year.
“While poaching of mega species such as tigers and rhinos invariably hogs the limelight, many smaller creatures – although unnoticed — is equally bearing the brunt of the thriving wildlife syndicates operating in the North-east. Wildlife such as tokay gecko, pangolin, snakes, owl, etc., are extremely vulnerable to poaching and capture,” a conservationist said.
The abysmal protection mechanism in most of the forests of the region, especially in the reserve forests many of which harbour wide-ranging wildlife, has virtually given the depredators of forest wealth, including fauna, a free run.
Of late, poachers in the North-east have been particularly targeting the tokay gecko which is reportedly fetching fortunes for smugglers in the grey market. The tokay gecko, a nocturnal Asian lizard growing up to 40cm in length and weighing up to 200gm, is in great demand in some Asian countries for its reported but largely unfounded medicinal values. A mature gecko is said to be worth up to Rs 20 lakh.
Recently, the medicinal demand for tokay geckos has skyrocketed, with dozens of new websites in Malaysia, a major hub of the trade, dedicated to buying and selling tokay geckos.