A cute looking lizard species with leopard markings have been recently found in Nepal. The leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is the 11t gecko species recognized in the country. Now Conservationists are concerned that the gecko could become a target of the illegal exotic pet trade.
A photo was posted by Yan Bahadur Rawat if Facebook, it caught the attention of many admirers and also that of reptile expert Karan Shah who suggested that the beautiful spotted gecko it might be a new species for Nepal.
Shaw told Global Voices that, “he then removed the post and on researching further it was ascertained to be completely new for Nepal.”One of the research team members, Jeevan Thapa posted on Facebook: “Happy to share a new species of lizard recorded from Nepal. This documentation from Nepal added a new family, genus and species of the herpetofauna from Nepal. Now, this species becomes the 11th gecko species for Nepal.”
According to a research article, posted by the team, “common Leopard Geckos remained undetected in Nepal until now. This could be attributable to the secretive nocturnal nature of the species or the limited research on the herpetofauna in western Nepal. These new records from three different localities indicate that the species is likely to have a much wider distribution in Nepal, including Banke National Park, which lies between the sites of these observations.”
Two leopard geckos, nocturnal in nature, were found hibernating in the Kamdi Biological Corridor of Banke District in western Nepal.
In their research article, the team wrote: “Common Leopard Geckos remained undetected in Nepal until now. This could be attributable to the secretive nocturnal nature of the species or the limited research on the herpetofauna in western Nepal.”
The geckos are unlike ordinary geckos. They have moveable eyelids which means they can blink and close their eyes during sleep, but can’t climb smooth vertical surfaces. Their feet have tiny harmless claws. The lifespans of are around 20 years and it has been s documented that they could live to 30 years in captivity.
These beautiful geckos are expensive and highly sought after.
They are traded both legally and illegally.
Reptiles magazine, report that captive-bred leopard geckos cost between USD 20 to USD 3,000.
However, it has been reported by DC Nepal, the security forces at Nepal-India border confiscated five leopard geckos which traded at a price of NRs 184 million (1.65 million USD).
This suggests that exotic pet traders are targeting geckos from Nepal as well as from India.
The leopard geckos are not on the IUCN Red List of threatened species but for the purpose of protection, the research team has recommended a detailed record in Nepal that would lead to having more control over their distribution and help conserve these beautiful species.