Philippine police seize 2,000 geckos from trader

(AFP) Google News 30 Nov 11;

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines — Philippine authorities seized a haul of about 2,000 live geckos as part of a campaign to protect the lizard that is highly-valued in traditional Asian medicine, police said Wednesday.

Police and environment department officers seized the lizards, held in boxes, crates and cages, from a trading company in the southern port city of General Santos on Tuesday just before they were due to be shipped to Manila.

The head of the trading company said the geckos were going to be used as part of an organic farming project but police investigator Senior Superintendent Bert Ferro said they violated wildlife protection laws by acquiring them.

"At least 14 people, including (the owner) were arrested during the raid," Ferro added.

Regional wildlife protection chief, Zosimo Soriano said the animals would eventually be released into the wild.

Demand for geckos from the Philippines has intensified in recent months as the Asia-wide alternative medicine trade ravaged the lizard's numbers in neighbouring Malaysia, the government warned in July.

Trapping, selling or exporting geckos, regarded by some Asians as cure-alls, is punishable by hefty fines and jail terms of up to four years.

Twenty-six gecko species are found only in the Philippines, which also has eight other varieties that are also found elsewhere, the department said.

Raid in General Santos yields 2,000 geckos
Inquirer News 30 Nov 11;

GENERAL SANTOS CITY—Government agents on Tuesday seized 2,000 geckos from a trading company here and are now preparing charges against the company owners and others believed involved in collecting and trading the protected species.

Senior Supt. Albert Fierro, director of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Central Mindanao, on Wednesday said the raid on Mindanao Development Venture and Trade in Barangay Lagao was carried out by agents of the CIDG, the National Bureau of Investigation and other police units after the company was found to be engaged in the buy and sell of geckos.

The capture and trade of geckos had been outlawed.

Fierro quoted Mario Librada Legazpi, owner of the trading company, as saying his company was collecting the geckos for use in organic farming.

Fierro, however, said representatives from the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are not buying Legazpi’s story.

Fierro said PAWB representatives believe that the geckos were being sold to collectors who crush the animals into powder in the belief that these have medicinal value.

In other countries, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, geckos are being passed off as cure for cancer and even the human immunodeficiency virus.

A 300-gram gecko could fetch P45,000 in the black market. Openly trading in geckos, a protected species, is prohibited in the Philippines.

“The payoff for the 2,000 geckos was supposed to take place on Wednesday but we were able to prevent it,” said Fierro.

He said charges of violation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act were now being prepared against Legazpi and his companions.

The seized reptiles, meanwhile, would be released back into the wild, he said. Aquiles Z. Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao