The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has taken steps to stop the rampant illegal collection and trade of the Philippine Bow-Fingered Gecko, officially known as Tokay Gecko"” or “Tuko” in Pilipino.
An advisory released on June 17 by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Pangasinan confirmed previous reports there was a mad hunt in the province and elsewhere for Tokay Gecko, which is allegedly being sold at fantastic prices to still unidentified buyers.
PENRO chief Leduina Co said the rampant illegal collection and trade of the Bow-Fingered Gecko already reached the attention of DENR higher authorities months back, prompting them to issue a memorandum to their field offices to be more persistent and vigilant in monitoring the collection, transport and trade of geckos and other banned wildlife species.
The memorandum was issued by Atty. Ernesto Adobo Jr., DENR undersecretary for field operations and environmental law enforcement task force focal officer, warning appropriate legal actions would be taken against any person found violating Republic Act No. 9147, otherwise known as the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act” signed into law on July 30, 2001.
The trading, collection, hunting or possessing wildlife, their by-products and derivatives and transporting of wildlife (Chapter IV, Section 27 of the Wildlife Act) are considered illegal.
The “tuko,” although not included among the list of protected wildlife species by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) can be considered as part of “other wildlife species, Adobo said.
This means that “tuko”, not being classified as either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, is under threat from adverse factors such as over-collection, which can ultimately lead to their being vulnerable or extinct.
Penalties and/or fines for violations inflicted or undertaken against other wildlife species range from imprisonment for 10 days to one month and/or fine of P2,000 to P20,000; imprisonment of 10 days to one month and a fine of P1,000 to P5,000; or imprisonment of five days to 10 days and a fine of P200 to P1,000.
Co said that although “tuko” was not yet considered endangered, the public was advised to refrain from doing any business involving it or any other wildlife species.
"All existing wildlife has a role to play in our complex biodiversity and as human beings, we must protect and preserve them, not abuse or harm them,” she said.
The Geckos are being traded through the Internet where a 30-gram gecko commands a price of P600,000. (PNA)