August 27, 2011 (1:32 PM)

5 min read

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Money isn’t everything, but it sure is a big something. It is a good motivation to make people do things. As a matter of fact, some would do anything for money. It will depend on what perspective you take when determining whether money is good or bad. Although one thing is for sure, injecting money in anything will make people do a lot of startling and unbelievable things. As evidence to this, money was actually what fired up the recent gecko or tuko mania.

Getting to Know the Victim

Geckos are reptiles that normally live in tropical countries like the Philippines. Out of about a thousand kinds of existing geckos, 12 of them can be found here in our country. Geckos are nocturnal creatures and like fishes, they sleep with their eyes open. Filipinos commonly know geckos as “tuko”. This is because if you would listen carefully to the sound they produce, it is as if they are saying “tuko”. Only male geckos are the one who produce “tuko” sound. They do it for mating and warning purposes. However, it is ironic that the sound which geckos used to warn each other reveals them from their hunters.

Tuko Hunting Craze

Initially it was believed that geckos possessed medicinal properties that could heal asthma. Lately, rumours have spread that it could also cure HIV-AIDS and cancer. The rumours then lead to a large demand for geckos trading them at high amount. In fact, if you happen to capture one weighing 400 grams or more, you can sell it for P50,000 to P1,000,000. People would normally freak out when they see a big gecko, but with that big price tag on its head, it would look like a winning lotto ticket with legs waiting to be seized. Nevertheless, those small ones are sold for P650 to P5000. A reasonably large amount, considering that you would receive it in exchange for a creature you could practically see anywhere.

The gecko hunting instantly became a big hit. It topped the what-to-hunt charts in Visayas and Mindanao. More and more people started to participate in the hunting craze. Finally it became too big for local environmentalists to handle, which is why the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had to intervene. They stressed that there’s a law declaring gecko hunting as illegal. Republic Act 9147, Chapter IV, Section 27 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to willingly and knowingly exploit wild life resources…” Sad to say, people continue to hunt and sell geckos. Nobody is really afraid since no one has actually been imprisoned for hunting or selling the threatened animal.

The people who are caught usually refute the accusation, which is why the most that the police could do is to confiscate the captured geckos. Even though geckos are not yet part of the endangered species list, it won’t be long before it does if this trend continues.

Geckos: Containers for Drugs

If you have watched movies that involve drug mules using animal body as containers to transmit drugs, then more or less you already have an idea in what other areas geckos could be used. There has been a speculation that geckos are used for drug smuggling. Like how law offenders swallow drugs contained in latex balloons, commonly condoms, or special indigestible pellets to trade it from state to state. It is suspected that geckos could also be used as a tool to ease the illegal transactions within Asia.

Losing equilibrium

We were taught in our elementary science that once certain species decrease in number, the creature they feed on increases in number. Simple analogy would tell you that this is true, with lesser species to eat the food, there would be more food. In this case, if the geckos continue to deteriorate in number, it is the insects that they eat that would feel most delighted. Geckos eat insects like mosquitoes, worms, cockroaches, etc. So if you are a cockroach hater you should probably consider becoming an advocate for anti-gecko hunting. But on a more serious note, a specific negative effect of the decreasing number of geckos is the elevated risk of dengue. Since geckos feed on mosquitoes they will be able to eat those that carry dengue as well, lessening the chances of getting people sick. We might not see the effects of this now, but in the long run it will still be us who will suffer from this imbalance.

An opportunity like this to earn a lot of money seldom comes for some. Financially stable people might not find rejecting this opportunity as a problem, but those who do not have much might find it hard to resist. This is why they are usually the ones who are easy targets when faced with this kind of temptation. They would prefer capturing geckos over hungry stomachs. It would be hard to argue with that. But even so, one should not resort to capturing powerless creatures for money. Selling of a creature for it to be killed for whatever unreasonable idea is still an act of killing.

There are other ways to earn money if you just try harder to look for them. It might be troublesome and you might not earn as much, but at least you gained money free from law suits and guilt. Money might be a big something, but again, money isn’t everything.



End the silence of the gagged!

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