Monday, August 9, 2010

Shh...! Be Quiet Tokay...

When it is time for mating, the male Tokay Gekko (Gekko Gecko) can be a noisy little fella. While its call can attract the females and as well as a lucrative opportunity for the greedy ones.  A gecko's loud funny call can give away its hiding spot, endangering the life of that gecko.

In some Asian counterparts, these geckos are kept as pets because it is regarded to be harbingers of luck and good fortune. For many years, these geckos have been caught in large numbers in countries like South China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia to be sold as pets and to be used as traditional Chinese medicine bringing a steep decline of its population (Extract from BBC Science and Nature). And this craze of capturing tokay geckos has hit Langkawi and apparently this craze started a few months ago or maybe for a year. 


I was told recently that some boys had been spotted carrying torchlights lurking around an apartment looking for these geckos. There used to be the calls of tokay geckos in the area of this apartment and now it is zero. There was a rumor about these gecko poachers being caught in a resort for trespassing and the greatest fear is that these are the acts of these security guys themselves.

I stumbled upon a research paper on Geckos in Traditional Medicine: Forensic Implications by Prof Aaron Bauer from Villanova University. He wrote that geckos had been used in Chinese traditional medicines for at least hundreds of years. These creatures have been used to treat a variety of ailments including coughs, kidney stones, asthma, diabetes and sexual dysfunction (Read, 1934). More recently, gecko products have been used for the treatment of cancer as well, and there is much study regarding the relevant active ingredients, pharmacological effects, and clinical applications of gecko products (Chen and Huang, 2001).

Samples of tokay geckos in a form of dried eviscerated and in a bottle as wine as chinese traditional medicine. Pictures taken from a pdf format of Professor Aaron Bauer's research paper on Geckos in Traditional Medicine: Forensic Implications

And there is another rumor on what tokay geckos can offer. A cure to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)! It is just a rumor and there is no confirmed research done as yet to prove this fact.

A call was made to the Perhilitan (Wildlife Department) of Langkawi and I was told to refer to their website to confirm its protection status. Unfortunately, there is no information in that website. After looking through the website of CITES, IUCN database and BBC Science and Nature, the Gekko Gecko is not endangered and not listed as a protected species. The danger with this rumor going around about curing AIDS will definitely endanger the population of tokay geckos. Please do something about this, Perhilitan!

How I wish I can be the messenger telling these tokay geckos to keep their mouths shut!



  1. Yes... I heard about this as well. There was one living at the top of my girlfriend's house and every night after I sent her home, I would hear it call a few times. And this has been so for at least 3 months. Then recently, her brother informed that he heard in the news that each gecko could fetch quite a large sum of money and strangely, ever since then we never heard that gecko again. And a few days prior to that a couple of boys from the neighbouring house asked my girlfriend's brother if he kept a gecko as a pet.

    So, I guess either of two things happened... it got caught by the boys or it decided to 'Shhh' after hearing the news.

    -Kevin Eu-

  2. Hi Kevin;
    How about this for a change? Aliens come to earth and take away those poachers' girlfriends/love ones, whatever, and see how they would feel.

    If you don't hear it again, it probably had crossed over to Thai border..:(


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