Conservation status

Population estimates exist for very few geckos, and the conservation status of most species is unknown. Many geckos live in desert areas that are affected little by humans or, like some tropical species, actually exploit human habitations for their own use. Many island-dwelling geckos with restricted distributions, however, are imperiled by habitat destruction, particularly deforestation, and by the introduction of rats, cats, and other predatory mammals. Among the only geckos believed to have become extinct in historical times are the giant gecko of Round Island in the Mascarenes (Phelsuma edwardnewtoni) and the largest gecko that ever lived, Del-

A gecko (Gekko vittatus) in the Solomon Islands. (Photo by W. Cheng. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

court's giant gecko from New Zealand. In each case, introduced predators probably were to blame. Geckos of the genus Phelsuma, which are especially brightly colored and attractive, are all internationally protected as CITES Appendix II species because they are popularly sold in the pet trade.

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