Assessing the ecology, population, impact factors and basis for conservation of Ornamental Geckos (Gekko canhi) in Vietnam

One of the reasons why 96% of the world's reptile species are not protected by conservation measures is due to the lack of basic biological information about the species. The only known species of Gecko (Gekko canhi) is a single published description of the species. Recorded to be distributed in the same habitat as the critically endangered Gecko, the Ornamental Gecko is expected to be strongly impacted by human activities. A group of scientists from the Genome Research Institute, Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in collaboration with Cologne Zoo, Germany conducted a comprehensive study to evaluate the ecology, populations, and factors affecting the species, thereby proposing solutions to conserve the ornamental gecko species.

The ornamental gecko - Gekko canhi was discovered and described for the first time in Huu Lien Nature Reserve (Huu Lien NR), Lang Son and Sapa, Lao Cai, in 2010 in Zootaxa magazine. The species is named after Associate Professor, PhD. Le Xuan Canh - Former Director of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources. However, since its publication until now, no further research on the species has been recorded. Lack of scientific understanding of the species is the reason why conservationists in Vietnam question whether this endemic species is truly endangered and in need of protection.

Habitat and species of ornamental gecko - Gekko canhi

The research team conducted a field survey for three months at Huu Lien Nature Reserve, recording 95 individuals of ornamental geckos, of which October recorded the most with 56 individuals, May with 31 individuals and July with only 8 individuals. Population density was estimated to vary between survey months. Among them, October recorded the highest population density with an average of 9.6 individuals/km/day and 6.1 individuals/km2/day. Research on population structure, adult males were most recorded in May (48.4%), juveniles and adult females were most recorded in July (37.5%), and adult females were most recorded in July. 7 (55.4%).

Gender structure and age group of ornamental geckos according to survey months

The species was recorded in Huu Lien Nature Reserve in the altitude range from 150 to 342 m above sea level. Air temperatures recorded at times of species activity at night ranged from 18.6 to 27.80C. The body temperature of the species was measured in the wild in the range of 18.9 - 28.80C. The species often clings to cliffs and tree branches at an average height of about 1.21 m (0.2 - 3.0 m) above the ground, with an average coverage of about 76%.

Analysis of ecological characteristics and natural habitats of ornamental geckos

Distributed in the same habitat as the critically endangered Gecko, the Ornamental Gecko is also expected to be strongly impacted by human activities. Specifically, through direct observations and interviews with local people, the research team recorded a number of activities that degrade the quality and destroy the habitat of ornamental geckos. Including road construction activities, rock slides, stone mining for cement production, and deforestation for shifting cultivation are recorded in the species' distribution habitat. The Ornamental Gecko is also predicted to be strongly affected by climate change in the future due to the same habitat as the Huu Lien Eyed Gecko.

Factors impacting the decline and destruction of habitat for ornamental geckos

Based on basic research and investigation on ecology, populations, and assessment of impact factors, the research team proposed that it is urgent to implement measures to conserve the species' population and habitat before extinct species due to the impacts of human activities, such as: Coordinating with local authorities and forest rangers to strengthen forest protection patrols and protect limestone mountain habitats; inspect and punish cases of illegal animal hunting and deforestation in areas where exploitation is prohibited; Supervision and patrol training for forest rangers; Implement local community education programs to increase understanding of the value of protecting biodiversity.

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Translated by Quoc Khanh
Link to Vietnamese version

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