Dried tokay geckos a big income earner for village in Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom
With much of Isan already struggling with water shortages this dry season, residents of a village in Na Wa district welcome it as the perfect time to catch and dry tokay geckos for export.
The dried bodies are used in traditional Chinese medicine, and yield a huge income for the community.
More than 300 households at Ban Tan in tambon Na Wa each earn 50,000-100,000 baht a month selling dried tokay, which are exported to China and Taiwan. Tokay are the world’s second largest true gecko, and grow up to 30cm long, including the tail.
This dry season has been a busy time at Ban Tan, as they trap the fiesty little reptiles in their houses and in neighbouring villages and fields. They usually use a string and a noose. Some use slingshots where it’s safe.
Some households sell tokay live to local traders at 40-50 baht each. Others kill and dry them, tying them on long thin sticks for easy handling. The dried geckos fetch 80-100 baht each.
Noppamas Wongsanao, 38, of Ban Tan, said people there have been earning a living from selling dried geckos for more than 20 years. Initially it was only a few of them, but when people realised catching tokay brought a handsome income others soon followed suit.
The Covid-19 pandemic did not affect them. They had work all year round, catching earthworms and leeches in season and also drying them for sale, she said.
Exporting dried geckos was a lucrative business and generated jobs and income, Ms Noppamas said. Each household could earn 50,000 baht a month, and some as much as 100,000 baht a month.