Turquoise Dwarf Gecko or Electric Blue Gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 10251553
The identification training was conducted for the Tanzania's Wildlife Division (CITES) staff, police and customs purposely because they daily oversee the management of live animals exported outside of Tanzania through airports. Since these law enforcers had very limited knowledge of the physical appearance of Lygodactylus williamsi, it was thus crucial to train them to be able to identify the species and block them before they are shipped alongside species in the government quota. Twenty-four of them were trained using well prepared color training document which vividly shows different patterns of each species of gecko that can easily be mistaken with L. williamsi.
The training was preceded by presentation on the general conservation status of the species as an endemic to an area as small as only four square kilometer in Kimboza Forest in the Eastern Arc Mountains. Despite this illicit trade as a threat to this species of gecko, other threats include forest fires, mining, slash and burn agriculture, forest cutting for building poles and methods of capture which involve destruction of the Pandanus plants where they inhabit.
In the course of discussion, some very important points were raised by trainees, which include the following:
• The training is an important short term intervention but it doesn't help eliminate illegal export.
• Need to engage consumer markets in the process of conserving the species
• Stopping illegal harvest before it takes place in the field instead of waiting to block shipping at the exit points
• Build capacity of more law enforcers because the training covered only a smaller proportion of the personnel working as police, customs and wildlife officers at the exit ports
• Do similar training to the licensed dealers and trappers in the field to ensure that they are not also harvesting by mistakes. The training will also help them to know the status of the resource they harvest. The trappers may not know that the species is endemic to Kimboza Forest Reserve.
• Seek listing of this endemic species in the CITES species list.
Cooperation showed by the Director of Wildlife in the whole organization process prior to training and pledges after training are well appreciated. Many thanks to Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund for financing this training event.
Project 10251553 location - Tanzania, Africa