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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

More protected forest geckos stolen in break-in at NZ wildlife park...

Green Planet reports another despicable act of theft from the KiwiNorth museum and heritage park in Whangarei recently. Seven native geckos were stolen from this Northland heritage park and could fetch up to $14,000 on the European black market.

These protected New Zealand  forest geckos were taken after thieves broke into the park after forcing a lock on an enclosure. Park director Sue Walters said the assumption was the geckos would be smuggled overseas.

However, there were documeted cases in NZ of geckos being kept as pets. This would at least keep these animals in the country.

Wildlife Enforcement group senior investigator Stuart Willamson said colleagues had seen forest geckos for sale in Europe for about 1000 Euros or NZ$1700, Four of the stolen geckos were part of a program to repopulate areas the geckos once lived in.

Ms Walters said their staff was devastated . One of the geckos was Fat Albert,  who survived a similar burglary in the park in 2006. He was named as such because he ate all the flies before the other geckos could get to them. He had recently been sick and close attachments had been formed with the staff who had nursed him back to full health.

Four geckos stolen in 2006 had never been recovered. She said security would be improved at the park.

Mr Williamson said the forest gecko was not uncommon in New Zealand but had absolutely protected status,  and was an internationally regulated species. Overseas sales could prove difficult.

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