‘Tuko’ wards-off dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes

By George M. De La Cruz/ PNS

Manhunt operations on those involved in the massive trading of geckos, locally known as ‘tuko’, has been a positive move, or else dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes may multiply which poses a threat on the population of this type of reptile that feeds on insects such as mosquitoes.

Recent reports stating the rise in hunting and selling of these reptiles because of their high cost in the international wildlife market coincide with the rise in the number of dengue patients now being monitored by the Department of Health.

Senator Manny Villar has filed Senate Resolution No. 538 urging the Trade and Commerce committee to conduct an inquiry on the reported massive trading of geckos for the purpose of crafting measures that will protect the specie from threats, ensure their survival and maintain the unique balance of the ecosystem.

As chairman, Villar expressed apprehension over the hunting of geckos, which he said will allow dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes to multiply, hurting the government campaign to control the fatal disease.

To date, dengue cases from the period January to June 2011nationwide is 27,000, a Disease Surveillance Report of the DOH-National Epidemiology Center (NEC) showed.

Reports have it that much of the interest in geckos was generated by a claim that it can cure cancer, asthma, tuberculosis, impotence and even Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). But in its statement, DOH said the use of geckos as cure for AIDS or asthma was unproven and had no scientific basis.

According to reports, 500 grams of geckos, which is commonly found in households and their surrounding areas, sell from P50,000 to P500,000. Trading of geckos is primarily done online through networking sites and other internet-based marketing networks where a sale is made to the highest bidder.

Villar noted that although geckos are not classified as either critically endangered or vulnerable, but it is now under threat from over collection which can ultimately lead to vulnerability or extinction.

The government must act in order to save the specie from threats because existing wildlife plays a role in the balance of nature, he added.

Local environmental analysts theorized that due to a high poverty crisis in the country, people in the business abroad would take advantage of any forms of trade such in the case of geckos, many Filipinos have been paid already in the massive collection of the geckos.