People, Environment

New Gecko Species in Need of Protection

New Gecko Species in Need of ProtectionNew Gecko Species in Need of Protection

A researcher at Pars Herpetologists Institute has called for a plan to determine the population of the newly-found Parsigecko ziaiei (also called the Persian gecko) in Homag Protected Area, Hormozgan Province.

Scientists say that because there are very few of these reptiles in existence, monitoring the area is essential to initiating conservation efforts and removing environmental threats to the species.

Following reports suggesting that roads and gardens might be constructed in the protected area, which could endanger the Persian gecko, the institute pleaded to the Department of Environment to “help determine the population of the newly-discovered species and assess their risk level,” according to Haniyeh Ghaffari, a member of the PHI.

“We need to determine how many of them live in the area and address environmental threats caused by human activity if necessary,” ISNA quoted her as saying.

Criticizing Iran’s conservation policies, Ghaffari said priority is given to animals based on their physical size: The bigger they are, the more protection they receive.

Ghaffari criticized the country’s conservation projects for being based on the size of the animal rather than the risk level.

“Mammals and birds take priority in protection schemes and reptile and amphibian species come afterwards,” she said. “Being a rather small reptile, the Parsigecko Ziaiei seems to have small chances of protection, whereas conservation plans must not discriminate between animals.”

The Persian gecko was found around last year — about four years since the institute began surveying Homag for reptiles — but its discovery was not officially announced until earlier this month after it was officially approved as a distinct lizard species by international organizations.

Scientists attribute its late discovery to their low population and the fact that they are nocturnal.

The gecko is named in honor of Houshang Ziaei, a renowned Iranian ecologist and author of the revolutionary 1996 book ‘A Field Guide to the Mammals of Iran’.

Due to the topography of the gecko’s small habitat in Homag (located atop a mountain surrounded by lowland plains, thereby making its migration difficult) and the distinct natural features of its habitat, the gecko is extremely unlikely to be found elsewhere in the country.

Pars Herpetologists Institute is an NGO whose main objective is to protect reptile and amphibian species by organizing educational programs and raising awareness among the general population.

Geckos are lizards found in warm climates throughout the world. With an area of 36,000 hectares and altitude of around 700 meters above sea level, Homag Protected Area is located to the north of Bandar Abbas in Hormozgan Province.