29 July 2015 | Comments
Workers unloading hold baggage from a shipping container on St Helena, which arrived from Ascension Island, have found a live gecko moving around among the baggage.
Caught by Peter Corker, it was passed to Customs and then to the Biosecurity team. One glance at the animal was sufficient to confirm that it was different to the geckos normally found on St Helena, and this has now been confirmed by international experts viewing the photos.
On St Helena, there exists an Asian House Gecko, while the captured gecko is provisionally identified as an Afro-American House Gecko. Both species are known to occur on Ascension Island.
Since geckos eat invertebrates, they pose a potential threat to the biodiversity of St Helena, as many of the Island’s unique species are invertebrates. Stopping the spread of a new species before it can do any harm is therefore very important.
Shipping containers are well known for their ability to carry new species around the world. Some people may remember the Peacock Butterfly which was found in a container from the UK in 2013.
Senior Veterinary Officer, Joe Hollins, said:
“Finding a live gecko is only one step away from finding a live snake, and we definitely don’t want one of these on the Island. We are very grateful to the workers on the Wharf for their quick action in noticing and catching this animal”.
If you spot any unfamiliar plant, insect or animal, please call the Biosecurity Team at ANRD on 24724.
29 July 2015