IMPHAL, Aug 4 � The stories of rescuing or releasing a rare lizard with sticky feet, called Tokay Gecko or Numit or Hangkok in local tongue, have become the talk of the town after it appeared in local dailies during the last few days in Manipur.
People living at Jiribam subdivision bordering south Assam�s Cachar district are also reportedly looking for the species after knowing the blackmarket value of the endangered lizard. There are reports of smuggling Tokay Gecko to South Asian countries via the Moreh border town in Manipur.
�It might be because of the report of high demand of the species in some south Asian countries such as Philippines and Malaysia. People in these countries have a belief that the reptile has enough medicinal value for various diseases, including cancer,� says Managing Trustee of People for Animal Thoubal in Manipur. One can easily earn Rs 8-20 lakh for the reptile, weighing just 250 gram and measuring 15 inches, once it reaches its destination.
With the value for the reptile soaring, poachers who earlier targeted other animals have reportedly switched focus to Geckos and have been searching for them in the hills and adjoining areas of the State.
�Through the Internet we came to know that people living in the South Asian countries are looking for such reptiles along Indo-Myanmar region after the species reportedly gone extinct in their respective countries,� the activist added. In less than a week, police officials and activists in Manipur rescued as many as 13 Tokay Geckos from different places in Bishnupur and Thoubal districts.
The rare reptile was first rescued in the State on July 25 after a team of Thoubal district police intercepted a Maruti Van in which five persons were travelling with the said reptile concealed in a bag. Later, it was released at the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Bishnupur district which is the home of the endangered brow-antlered deer or Sangai found nowhere else on the planet.
Similarly, the other reptiles rescued from the Kamong locality in Manipur�s Bishupur district, besides others, were also released in the same national park located on the southern part of Loktak Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes in eastern India.