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Don't Buy Vietnam's Cat Ba Tiger Geckos as Pets. They Are Going Extinct.

The exotic pet trade and lack of suitable conservation standards threaten the lizards native to several remote islands in northern Vietnam.

In a recent study, a Vietnamese-German research team looks into the domestic and international pet trade that's driving a gecko species endemic to Vietnam to extinction. The paper was spearheaded by Ngo Ngoc Hai, a PhD candidate at the Vietnam National Museum of Nature in Hanoi.

One of nineteen gecko species in the country, there are only an estimated 120 tiger geckos (Goniurosaurus catbaensis) on Cat Ba Island and smaller groups in other localities. Native to Vietnam, China and Thailand, they are purchased as pets in Europe and North America for upwards of US$1,000. The geckos can also be found in local pet shops in Vietnam and on online shops. Once caught, they are sold by local villagers to dealers for US$4-5 each and then shipped overseas where they can fetch around US$100 or more in pet shops.

Beginning in the 1990s, foreign demand has put our sticky-toed buddies in danger. Despite being listed as endangered, there are few formal or informal structures in place to protect them. A researcher expands: “Tiger geckos are neither sufficiently protected by law nor part of conservation programmes, due to the lack of substantial knowledge on the species conservation status and probably due to the general lack of public as well as political interest in biodiversity conservation."

Experts argue that the lizards need to be mentioned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to understand the state of their population size and effectively protect them.

[Photo via Science Daily]

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