On Union Island, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the population of a rare endemic gecko has increased by 80% thanks to conservation efforts deployed by the government and environmental groups.
“As a Unionite and a community leader, I am extremely proud to be a part of this success story,” says Roseman Adams, co-founder of the local Union Island Environmental Alliance. “Without a doubt, our shared, unwavering dedication and sacrifice has brought us this far. We now have to be entirely consistent with further improvements in our management and protection of the gecko’s habitat for this success to be maintained.”
The Union Island gecko – also known as Gonatodes daudini – is no bigger than a paperclip and bears jewel-like markings. Discovered in 2005, it quickly became the target of exotic pet collectors and consequently, the most trafficked reptile from the Eastern Caribbean as of 2017. In 2019, the Union Island gecko was added to Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), meaning that concrete and drastic measures could be put in place to save the small reptile, such as a species recovery plan for the tiny gecko living in a 50-hectare swath of old-growth forest on Union Island. The area has been expanded, and benefits from anti-poaching patrols and camera surveillance. Efforts paid off since the gecko population went from 10,000 in 2018 to 18,000 in 2022, an increase of 80% in four years.