ANRADA, Australia — It might be easy to overlook the plight of Australia’s green gecko, which is already being called the most threatened species in the world.
But the blue-winged lizard has been dubbed the country’s most endangered species and has been at the centre of a debate about whether it should be protected or kept out of the wild.
Australia’s first national survey of the species found only two breeding pairs have survived to adulthood, and there are concerns that if they don’t breed soon, the species could be wiped out by climate change and human activity.
“The numbers are really high.
There are only about a dozen or so individuals left in Australia, and that’s a big number, particularly if you consider the species has a limited life expectancy, and it’s in a vulnerable position,” says Jane Wills, from the University of Queensland’s department of biology.
She says if there are not enough breeding pairs in the future, it will be very hard to find suitable mates.
Geckos live in trees, bushes and grasslands.
The blue-eyed lizard is found in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and parts of South Australia.
It was first described in 1881 in Australia by Charles Darwin, but only recently have researchers been able to identify its unique genetic code.
Biologists believe the gene, called PIC10, allows geckos to distinguish themselves in the eyes of predators, such as birds and snakes.
Experts have said the gene is passed from parent to offspring through the birth canal of the female gecko.
A blue-headed lizard.
In the wild, females lay about 100 eggs in their nests and the gecko will use its eyes to determine if it’s male or female.
This is where the blue eye comes into play.
When the male gecko sees a female, it attaches a large hook to her tail and pulls it back into the nest.
Once the female has been in the nest, she will lay her eggs there.
Scientists are concerned the gecko will soon be unable to hunt and the species will disappear completely, unless it is protected.
If you or anyone you know is concerned about this, please call the ABC helpline on 1300 659 477.