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Does Geckos Really Have Medicinal Properties

Updated on July 24, 2011

The Gecko Trade in the Philippines

The different plants with medicinal properties are used as treatments for various ailments worldwide. In some parts of the world, however, even animals and their parts are also used as cures for diseases although they are not yet proven to be effective.

In China the moon bears are farmed for their bile and now in the Philippines the humble geckos are hunted, bred and traded for various medicinal purposes. Although the medical effectiveness in treating diseases using geckos are not yet confirmed, the poor animals are hunted down even in remote places in the country.

The gecko which is called “tuko” is now a very hot commodity in the countryside. Just few weeks ago, in the village where I reside I saw some buyers and hunters of geckos. I am not surprised to witness this scene since our place is still not developed and there are lot of trees and bushes in the area where geckos loves to thrive.

The geckos belong to the family Gekkonidae and are usually carnivorous as they hunt for food at nighttime. Their usual diet may consist of insects although larger species may prey on small mammals like rodents and small birds. Some varieties of geckos feed on plant matters like wood. They are renowned for having sticky footprints that allows them climb on vertical surfaces. They are the only species of reptiles that are capable of creating noise especially during nighttime to socialize with their kind or to breed.

The geckos help in keeping the number of nuisance insects including the dreaded disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Not long time ago many local folks living in many places in the country consider the geckos as bad luck. But the fortunes had changed and these poor animals are capable of bringing good luck to the illegal traders.

But Collecting, breeding and trading of the reptiles are null and void in the Philippines and if someone is caught doing some malpractices associated with the geckos he will get imprisoned and may pay hefty fines.

The collection, trade and transport of geckos without the appropriate permit from the local government agency the Protected and Areas and Wildlife Bureau under Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) may get imprisoned of up to 4 years and meted with a fine up to $7,000.

If the reptile succumbs in activity or still in the process of capture an additional sum of around $2,350 will be imposed on the violator.

The agency so far doesn’t issue any permits yet that authorizes the collection and breeding of the geckos for trade. The wildlife conservationists all over the country is now worried with the increasing demand for gecko especially in Malaysia where it is flourishing and very profitable trade.

The gecko population in Malaysia had declined for the past few years, forcing the suppliers to get the reptiles from neighboring countries such as the Philippines and Thailand. A 300 gram gecko may carry a tag price in the vicinity of $1,200 bucks, a whopping amount of money indeed.

Geckos are allegedly traded and sold as cure or treatment for cancer, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), asthma, tuberculosis and impotence, although the medical properties of the reptiles are not yet tried and tested.

Placebo effect and old beliefs and tradition is exacting toll on the hapless reptiles. Now the poor animal which was given a bad tag is now hunted for their still not proven medical properties. We just hope that the agency will make their act together in clamping down the illegal trade and ensure that the geckos will not get endangered.

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