sign in a cave in Laos

27 December 2022

Caribbean Union Island gecko

 Not related to southeast Asia, but interesting as it is about protecting an endangered gecko, and of course there are many endemic and some endangered geckos in Asian caves. 

BBC news on 26 Dec 2022 featured a tiny gecko that lives in just one part of an eastern Caribbean island. This is Union Island, part of the nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

"Army of islanders to protect gecko the size of a paperclip". The article says how the Union islanders are

"on a mission to protect one of the world's tiniest species - one so rare it exists in just 50 hectares (123 acres) in a remote corner of one of the smallest islands in the Caribbean.

The Union Island gecko is the size of a paperclip, critically endangered and facing an insidious enemy - poachers.

Following its official discovery in 2005, the unique creature quickly became a coveted curio by collectors enthralled by its gem-like markings, earning it the dubious distinction of the most trafficked reptile in the Eastern Caribbean."

Since 2017 the islanders have trained as wardens and now patrol the dense forests to look for intruders. As a result the gecko population has soared " from 10,000 in 2018 to around 18,000 now - outnumbering the island's human population six-fold".

International conservationists are involved including Fauna and Flora International (FFI). The gecko has been protected by international treaty CITES since 2019.

The gecko is very pretty and changes colour when brought into the light from dark brown to multi-coloured. Photo by FFI/J BOCK from BBC :

See more on the Union Island gecko.

The gecko has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. 

8 September 2022

Stone Age limb amputation from Kalimantan cave

  On 7 Sept 2022 news in the media about a Stone Age limb amputation from a cave in Kalimantan, Borneo.

Sky News "Stone Age human skeleton in Borneo provides evidence of earliest known surgical limb amputation"

The article says this is the earliest known limb amputation found on a human skeleton. The foot was found to have been surgically removed when the patient was a child. The patient was known to be alive at the time and recovered.  This happened about 31,000 years ago. The skeleton is of a young person. It was found in Liang Tebo cave in East Kalimantan. This area also has some of the world's oldest known rock art.

The people at that time would have been foragers. It looks like they had medical knowledge including how to prevent infections. The surgeon had knowledge of anatomy and was able to prevent blood loss and serious infection. The wound healed and the child is thought to have lived another 6 to 9 years before dying and being buried in the cave. 

Until now, the oldest known complex operation was carried out on a Neolithic farmer from France about 7,000 years ago. His left forearm was surgically removed and then partially healed.

The research article was published in Nature on 7 Sept, "Surgical amputation of a limb 31,000 years ago in Borneo"

And a BBC report "Earliest evidence of amputation found in Indonesia cave".