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‘Extinct’ gecko rediscovered in India

25/03/2013 18:56:56

Jeypore ground gecko by CES Ph.D. student Ishan Agarwal

Jeypore Ground gecko found after 135 year absence

Jeypore ground gecko rediscovered

April 2013. The Jeypore ground gecko (Geckoella jeyporensis) has been rediscovered after a 135 year absence. The last time it was sighted was in 1877, which was also the year when it was first discovered by a British lieutenant colonel and naturalist named R.H. Beddome.

The recent discovery was made by a team of scientists from the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) at the Indian Institute of Sciences, the Bombay Natural Historical Society (BNHS) and the Villanova University.

Commenting on the significance of such a discovery, Vivek Menon, Director of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said, “It’s extremely fortunate that in a country where so much importance is given to the conservation of large mammals, small creatures are also finally getting noticed, even if it is for a fleeting moment. With the ever increasing use of pesticides, we are losing a large number of insects and reptiles which form an intrinsic part of our ecosystem and as a result even common geckos are becoming increasingly rare.”

With conservation efforts in the country predominantly tiger-centric, other ‘not-as-charismatic’ species are usually side-lined. WTI has been working to bring focus to some of such mammals including the Pir Panjal markhor and the Mishmi takin.

Menon recalled, “There was a time when one could go to Manas and hear all sorts of animals near the river. There is a gecko restricted to the region called the Tokay gecko which could be heard all the time. Sitting on a porch in the evening, there were very few things which could compare with the tranquillity of listening to the Tokay and watching the frogs hop around. Now, whether in Manas or anywhere else, there are very few frogs to be seen and hardly any geckos to be heard. Urbanisation has pushed them all into the heart of forests and who knows how soon it’ll be before they disappear from there as well. ”

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