A joint team of Imphal West district police and People for Animals (PFA), Thoubal rescued four tokay geckos kept in a cage at a taxi stand in Langol foothills here on Wednesday.
Following a tip-off on the sale of the rare reptiles in the Langol areas, a joint team of PFA members and cops rushed to the area. They found a cage abandoned by smugglers and poachers at the parking, police said.
This incident came barely a fortnight after Thoubal cops intercepted a whooping 30 geckos during a frisking at Waikhong village in Thoubal district.
In the face of the reported smuggling of tokay geckos from Manipur to some southeast Asian countries, the wildlife crime control bureau has already urged the ministry of forest and environment to include the reptile species in the endangered scheduled animals’ list under the Protection of Wildlife Act, 1972.
Owing to their reported medicinal value, tokay geckos are highly demanded in some of the southeast Asian countries and a smuggler can easily fetch up to Rs 20 lakh for a matured gecko, weighing 200 grams and measuring 14 inches in these countries.
Wildlife experts, nevertheless, said that there is no scientific proof to substantiate the medicinal value present in these reptiles.
On Wednesday afternoon, the rescued four reptiles were produced before mediapersons at Imphal police station. Lourembam Biswajit, managing trustee of PFA Thoubal told them that the rescued geckos are currently being kept at their custody temporarily.
“Within the next couple of days, we, in consultation with Manipur forest department experts, will release the four geckos into the wild,” Biswajit said, adding that nearly fifty geckos have been rescued since the last four months from different parts of the state.
Under the Protection of Wildlife Act, there are six schedules, which give varying degrees of protection. The rare brow antlered deer found in Manipur is listed in Schedule I, the most endangered species in the mammal category.
Once tokay geckos are listed among the scheduled animals, more protective measures can be taken to save the reptiles, said forest officials. To check the reported cases of smuggling of the reptile species, forest authorities in Mizoram, Assam and West Bengal have been alerted, they added.
Source: Economic Times