Philippines: Tokay Gecko Hunting Craze

In recent months, the hunting of Tokay Geckos or Tuko in the Filipino language has become a craze in the Philippines, because of reports that online traders have been buying these lizards for a large amount of money. The hunting started when it was rumored that geckos can help cure asthma and HIV/AIDS.

The Department of Health has already issued a statement reminding the public that the rumored medicinal value of geckos has no basis:

The folkloric practice of using geckos as cure for AIDS and asthma persists to this day and is of serious concern to the Department of Health (DOH). There is no basis that this practice cures ailments like AIDS or brings relief from symptoms of asthma. Thus, we do not recommend it as cure for any ailment.

Senator Manny Villar is worried that the frenzied gecko hunting could lead to the extinction of the species in the country:

Although geckos are not classified as either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable, it is now under threat from over collection which can ultimately lead to vulnerability or extinction

From the Flickr page of gaikokujinkun used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Cebu and Davao Journey has friends who have been earnestly looking for geckos:

I first heard about this tuko craze on a radio in Davao a few months ago, where an announcer talked about the hoax of selling this lizard for 100,000 to 200,000 Pesos. I was ought to believe what the announcer said. It was then I eventually learned that it was indeed true. Some friends were telling me about it, that they spend time looking for tuko in hopes of becoming an instant millionaire.

Walking Newspaper, a biologist, rejects the hunting of geckos for cash:

Well then, if only catching one is only as easy and fast as applying and availing and online cash advance, I rather stop schooling and just merely go to the jungle and forever to catch gecko my whole life. Sad to say, geckos are our friends, as for me – as a biologist, and not for trading businesses.

The Internet facilitates the trading of geckos which has been already exposed as a scam. Tjsdaily notes that many Filipinos are still unaware that the online gecko buyers are scammers:

There are a billion reasons more why this tuko gecko scam is just that—a scam. Unfortunately, most of the Filipino populace are still completely ignorant on how scammers work.

The blogger also shows a screenshot of the website where the unbelievable price offers for live geckos are posted:

Tokay Geckos worth millions of pesos

Our Philippine Trees hopes the ‘exploiters’ would not find the geckos in their hiding places:

Probably the tuko hype will attract a few entrepreneuring Pinoys to trap specimens in the provinces.

I hope the tukos would stay stuck to where they are and give these exploiters a hard time. May the geckos cling on to them till their thick skins get peeled off!

Just my Personal Opinions can’t find a real person who was able to sell a gecko for a high price:

Is this true? I have lots of friends hunting for “tuko”. But none of them can show me some proofs that there are real “millionaire” buyers.. or at least, a common friend who was able to sell one for that price.

For a price of one million pesos for a full-sized single “tuko”, I can't help but think that they're into something bigger than a cure for aids or cancer… if this is true. Or if not, is it possible that someone just started this “fake craze” to divert the attention of many?

My Life in Cebu prefers to stay away from these gecko hunters:

Personally, I would not hunt tuko or buy one for even a 100 pesos. The tuko still scares me and I respect and appreciate its purpose as a mosquito killer. I would not let people into my house just to hunt for these lizards. Tuko trading could net someone a lot of cash but I'd rather stay in my job. ;)

Tokek Sabah posts 10 stories about the gecko hunting craze in the Philippines.


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