The Union Island gecko, found only in St Vincent & the Grenadines, is to be listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and our partners – the Union Island Environmental Attackers and the St Vincent & the Grenadines Forestry Department – are celebrating today after a decision was taken at the 18th Conference of the Parties in Geneva to afford this critically endangered species the highest level of protection against exploitation and illegal trade.
This positive move follows research in 2017 by local partners, FFI, and the University of Cambridge revealing a surge in demand for endemic Caribbean reptiles, which is driving the Union Island gecko towards extinction.
The international collector trade has emerged as a major new threat to the striking, multi-coloured Union Island gecko, also known as the Grenadines clawed gecko, with collectors in the US, Europe and Japan targeting the small number of individuals left alive in the wild.
The Union Island gecko’s entire range – around 50 hectares of forest habitat in St Vincent & the Grenadines – has been heavily scoured by collectors seeking to profit by illegally supplying the gecko to overseas markets. Fewer than 10,000 Union Island geckos remain in the wild. In some areas, numbers have fallen by 80% since 2010.