New rainforest gecko joins growing list of reptiles unique to Sri Lanka

12 June 2019 - 123   - 0

From the eastern fringe of Sri Lanka’s Sinharaja rainforest, scientists have described a new species of day gecko, the latest to join an ever-expanding list of remarkable reptiles found only in the island.

The Godagedara’s day gecko (Cnemaspis godagedarai) is described in a paper published in the June edition of the journal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, which places it in the unique microhabitat of Ensalwatte, in the southern district of Matara, according to Mongabay.

“The gecko was discovered in a mountainous area that lies between 700 and 800 meters [2,300 and 2,600 feet] above sea level and isolated from the rest of the forest canopy by streams,” herpetofaunal ecologist and lead author Suranjan Karunarathna told Mongabay. “This type of isolation is very special and the endemic species like this day gecko will be ‘point endemic,’” or restricted to a very small area.

“The highly restricted habitat shows that the species is susceptible to both localized and widespread threats. It is critically endangered due to having a very small geo-referenced location of about 500 miles [800 kilometers] radius,” Karunarathna said. The study says the species should be considered critically endangered under the IUCN Red List criteria.

The researchers named the new gecko after Godagedara Rate Adikaram, a national hero who fought in the uprising against the British colonial government from 1817 to 1818.

C. godagedarai becomes the 25th distinct species of Cnemaspis day gecko found only in Sri Lanka. According to the researchers,it closely resembles C. gemunu, C. phillipsi and C. scalpensis, though their localities are distinct within the Peak Wilderness area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(This report first appeared in Mongabay)

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