Unique Thai village profits from hot-season tokay gecko trade exports to China

PHOTO: Sanook.

A unique Thai village is gaining lucrative income from capturing and processing tokay geckoes, generating hundreds of thousands of baht (US$2,860) per month during the hot season. In the northeast province of Nakhon Phanom, villagers from Ban Tal in Nah Wah district are seizing the opportunity to capture the amphibians that thrive in the warm weather.

Ban Tal Thai Village, known as the mysterious village of unique seasonal occupations, has been relying on this profitable tokay gecko trade for over 30 years. Each hot season, from March to July, villagers capture geckoes and sell them to processing groups, Sanook reported. The tokay geckoes are then dried and exported to China, where they are believed to be an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. This has provided substantial income for some families, who can earn up to hundreds of thousands of baht per month.

Sawai, a 55 year old villager and gecko exporter from Ban Tal, shared the process of preparing and selling the geckoes. The preparation includes gutting the amphibians, keeping their skin intact, and placing them on sticks to dry overnight. The processed geckoes are then exported to China, with an insatiable demand for the product.

Sixty-five year old Chanchai, a representative of the Ban Tal gecko trader group, said that over the past 30 years, tokay gecko capturing has grown in collaboration throughout the village, and the trade even extends to different parts of Thailand. During the off-season, villagers give the geckoes time to breed and ensure that the gecko population and trade continue thereafter.

While fresh tokay geckoes are sold for approximately 30 to 40 baht (US$1) each, the dried processed geckoes fetch a price of 50 to 60 baht. The significant income generated by this industry has provided employment opportunities and financial stability for the locals, especially amidst the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even though the tokay gecko is considered to be their source of income, some people see it as a dangerous and scary animal. A homeowner in Surin province has been driven to spend sleepless nights away from her own home due to the ghostly presence of a dead tokay gecko. Read more HERE.

Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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