KUALA LUMPUR - The trigger for a frenzied and supposedly lucrative gecko trade in the country-that the reptile is a potential cure for AIDS - is unfounded.
World Health Organisation (WHO) director of communications Christy Feig was emphatic in her email reply to the New Straits Times: "Claims that geckos can cure diseases have absolutely no credibility and the rumour that the reptile can help alleviate the AIDS disease is not true." Such has been the impact of the rumours that Kelantan Wildlife and National Parks Department director Rahmat Topani said the gecko population had dwindled with people "going overboard catching them".
Internet rumours have been known to quote wondrous prices of up to RM200 million (S$100 million) for a 3.2kg gecko.
Trader Khong See Mon, 27, said he had sold more than 20 geckos from the time he started last year until February, with two of the reptiles weighing 600g.
When rumours of geckos' healing powers first reached WHO, it promptly addressed this issue on its Facebook page in June, saying the claims were a hoax and not backed by scientific evidence.