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Isaan families earn tens of thousands of baht selling dried tokay geckos



Stock photo via Wikimedia Commons

Hundreds of households in the Isaan province Nakhon Phanom are making tens of thousands of baht by selling dried tokay geckos, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s dry season in the Northeast region and a good time to catch geckos. While many businesses have been struggling throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the gecko trade seems to be booming.

A reporter from the Bangkok Post spoke with some people in the province’s Ban Tan district. They say more than 300 homes are cashing in on the gecko trade, each earning 50,000 to 100,000 baht by selling live or dried tokay geckos to traders. The geckos are then exported to China and Taiwan.

Some sell live tokay geckos at 40 to 50 baht each while those who kill the geckos and dry the bodies out, stretching the skin on sticks, sell the geckos for 80 to 100 baht each.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. BlueT84

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    At the current rate of capture around here. I assume 2-3 years all the lizards will be dead. In my local village. Every tom, dick and harry is out everyday capturing 100% of what they find. This year has been worse for obvious reasons . The locals have hunted for an extra 3 months more then prior years. With a massive increase in hunters.

    Anyone else notice the mass deforestation? From locals and goverment agencies. With all the road expansions to two lanes, the last of he old growth has been destroyed. Plus all the farmers making mass amounts of charcoal.

    I figure my ten year estimate of deforestation is coming faster then i like. Soon the only place you will be able to find any trees other then euca, rubber and such. Will be in a buddha area…

  2. toby andrews

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Next news will be. Nakhon Phanom suffers from clouds of mosquitos.

  3. James R

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 7:35 pm

    It seems Thai people in or from Issan will eat anything.

    They eat insects and all sorts of such things, I ask Thais not from Issan would they or have they eaten such things and they normally screw up their faces in disgust and say ‘no way’.

    I suppose it is due to the fact Issan was originally part of Laos, they still have the same Laos language and traditions even after being part of Thailand for a hundred years or more now.

  4. EdwardV

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    I wonder what will happen to the population of all the things those geckos use to eat? Reminds me of the sparrow story from China.

  5. Mr cynic

    Friday, March 12, 2021 at 11:30 pm

    Think the fact that issan is one of the poorest region’s in thailand may also be a factor in the fact that they will eat anything they can find.poor people are generally very resourceful and efficient through necessity.lot of other folks in thailand may soon be on the look out for anything they can eat for free as well.notice a lot of stories about nimby’s in phuket getting uptight about snakes slithering about the place.if hissing sid and friends were to show them self’s in the north east they would be straight in the pot.

  6. David Mann

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 4:18 am

    And then we wonder how something like Covid 19 appears out of nowhere. I’m sure civilisations messing around with bats, pangolin and exotics snakes all think it’s “normal”

  7. Ray

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    And now Winnie the Pooh in China has said that traditional medicine will take a more prominent place in health care. I guess he is fine with that as long as the wild life for the ingredients is not captured within China. Good for gecko and pangolin hunters, bad for the rest of us..

  8. TS

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    Don’t kid yourself. People used to look down their noses at Issan. True,there are a lot of poor villages in all provinces of Thailand but, having lived up country for sixteen years, I can tell you, it’s not like the old days. Lots of money and plenty of wealthy Thais around-not generated by the tourist biz, or gecko sales. The wealthy Thais up here just aren’t as showy about it. Land values are increasing exponentially

  9. Mike

    Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Just so you know – all Chinese medicine (TCM) is total and utter rubbish. It’s nothing but quackery and that goes for acupuncture, cupping, bone-setting, homeopathy, chiropractic and all the other nonsense which also includes Thai massage

  10. James R

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 1:19 am


    As far as I am told most Thai people still look down on Issan, when asked why they say they would not be as poor if they had less kids, stopped drinking and partying too much and turned their backs on gambling.

    I have never been to Issan but what I have seen is all over Thailand 99% or bars girls are from Issan and they seem to love a good booze up, love to party and most have at least one kid staying with grandparents in Issan.

  11. TS

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    James R
    You’ve been told? I’ve also heard a good percentage of bargirls are from the NE. So what? But since you’ve never been to Issan and probably never will, don’t take everything you hear about more boozing, partying, gambling as fact. It is a festive country after all. I don’t see any more or less of it here than other places except the deep South. In 45 yrs.,from young backpacker to old man, been to every region of Thailand more than once or twice. Not a chamber of commerce spokesman but you should travel up here sometime and have a week or more to check out some towns. If for nothing else, the scenery. And sincerely friendly people. Don’t know what it is, something in the water?- the number of non bargirl stunners per capita here is off the Scoville scale.

  12. Craig

    Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 7:51 pm

    Trying to use “the millionaire next door” analogy to the Issan area is almost laughable.

  13. James R

    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 12:23 am


    Yes I have been told by many Thai people they do not like women from Issan because they make the whole of Thailand look bad, if they didn’t tell me what they think then I wouldn’t know would I, it is bit of a silly comment you have made.

    But I have come across many Issan bar girls in Phuket, boozing, smoking and getting really drunk and will go with any guy for a fiver. But not my cup of tea.

    I have driven all around Thailand except Issan on my six moths or one year holidays, Issan is not for me after seeing them in Phuket over many decades.

    But enjoy yourself in Issan, they are the ones who go for old farang guys, the rest of Thai women would not go anywhere near them.

  14. Craig

    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 3:18 am

    Totally agree James. I’m not sure what spin is trying to be put on the Issan area.

  15. Ben

    Monday, March 15, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Demand from China is fueling this demand so the people from the poorest region in Thailand will meet it.

    We are fortunate in the west to be able to “live to eat”. When a fortunate westerner or a rich Thai criticizes those from a poorer country or area for eating insects and the like it shows a lack of compassion and awareness. Many people have to eat anything they have. They “eat to live”. I’m not an insect guy btw.

    Also, rich Thais do look down on poor Thais. This is true even within Isaan. Money in Thailand brings status like nowhere else I’ve seen in the world. I’m not sure why but that’s my observation and supported by many Thais I’ve talked too. When most westerners see/meet other westerners they don’t think about money. When Thai’s see/meet westerners they think the westerner is rich.

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