The blue gecko (Lygodactylus williamsi) is a small species of lizard that currently occurs at only two localities, fragments of a tropical forest in eastern Tanzania. These are protected areas, the Ruvu and Kimboza reserves. Endemic occurrence in a small area makes it vulnerable to extinction in the wild. At present, it is included in the critically endangered category in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
The project has been underway in the Kimboza Reserve since 2020 and it aims to protect the blue gecko from the negative effects caused primarily by human activities. The main threats include deforestation caused by fires, illegal logging, gold and gems mining. An equally serious problem is the spread of the invasive spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata) in the forest at the expense of the native Pandanus rabaiensis tree. Furthermore, illegal harvesting of geckos for breeding in human care, mainly due to demand from Europe and America possess another threat. Dr. Ch. J. Kilawe from Sokoine University of Agriculture leads local communities in the conservation activities in the Kimboza Reserve. The main objectives of the project are to preserve the natural environment of the gecko and prevent its illegal harvesting. The following sub-activities to achieve it are – the creation of gaps and their maintenance against the spread of fires in the forest, the cleaning of the forest from the invasive spanish cedar tree and financing the forest rangers to prevent poaching in the reserve. A very important part of the project is also education of the public, such as students in schools in the gecko’s homeland and also abroad. An important role play also zoos via educating their visitors, for example during guided tours, events for the public, through information panels or websites and social networks. Liberec Zoo has been involved in this project since the end of 2020.
Sokoine University of Agriculture v Tanzánii
Thüringer Zoopark Erfurt