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Critically Endangered 'Bejeweled' Gecko Making A Big Comeback In The Caribbean

Thanks to large scale collaboration between residents, organizations and the regional government, a small, critically endangered 'bejeweled' gecko with jewel-like markings is making a big comeback in the Caribbean. This comeback has been marked by a population increase of 8,000 Union Island gecko's over the span of four years, bringing current levels to a total of 18,000. This marks an 80% increase in the gecko population in the Caribbean - an incredible feat!

Image Copyright: Jacob Bock

The Union Island gecko, which is the size of a paperclip, is usually found within a 123-acre patch of ancient forest. From 2005 through till 2018, the Union Island Gecko population had plummeted due to aggressive poaching in the international pet trade.

However, in 2019, legal action was taken by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which allowed the Union Island gecko the highest level of protection against exploitation and illegal trade. This move, paired with the work of wildlife organizations and local residents, has allowed population numbers to bounce back.

Image copyright: Jeremy Holden

Caribbean alliance director for Re:wild and FFI, Jenny Daltry said: “It is truly a testimony to the determination of the Forestry Department - and the amazing community wardens on Union Island - that this gecko has become one of the best guarded reptiles in the world. This is something for which the whole community of Union Island can be rightly proud.”

Looking ahead to the future of this adorable gecko species, the FFI, UIEA, Re:wild and the SVG Forestry Department are all working together to implement plans that will help to protect the species. Some of their work to help to protect the Union Island Gecko includes developing both climate-sensitive and nature-based solutions to poor employment opportunities, as well as making sustainable developments for potential future tourists.

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