Gekko gecko, the tokay gecko, is a crepuscular arboreal gecko in the genus Gekko, the true geckos. It is native to Asia and some Pacific Islands.
The tokay gecko is culturally significant in many East Asian countries. Regional folklore has attributed supernatural powers to the gecko. In Southeast Asia it is a symbol of good luck and fertility. It is believed to be descended from dragons.
This species is poached for the medicinal trades in parts of Asia. The tokay gecko is an ingredient in Traditional Chinese medicine known as Ge Jie (蛤蚧). It is believed to nourish the kidneys and lungs, beliefs that are not substantiated by medical science. The animal remains highly sought after in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other parts of Asia with Chinese communities, to the point where unscrupulous merchants have taken to disfiguring monitor lizards with prosthetics to pass them off as colossal tokay gecko specimens.
From 2009 to 2011 the poaching of Tokay geckos intensified due to a short lived belief that it was an effective HIV cure.
The tokay gecko is quickly becoming a threatened species in the Philippines due to indiscriminate hunting. Collecting, transporting and trading in geckos without a license can be punishable by up to twelve years in jail and a fine of up to Php1,000,000.00 under Republic Act 9147 in addition to other applicable international laws. However, the trade runs unchecked due to the sheer number of illegal traders and reports of lucrative deals. Chinese buyers and other foreign nationals are rumored to pay thousands of dollars for large specimens, because of their alleged medicinal value or as commodities in the illegal wildlife trade.
The 18th meeting of the Conference of the parties to the Convention on International trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)took place in Geneva, there Gecko was included for the first time under Appendix II, means species under Appendix II are not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.