A team of Sri Lankan scientists caused a turmoil in Srilanka's Parliament and invited a police investigation. This was followed by their decision to name six newly discovered species of gecko after mythical heroes and national figures. Discovered on an Indian Ocean island in 2017 and revealed in August, two of the six species were named for warriors loyal to a first-century BC king and the others given the names of 19th-century rebels against British rule.
Infuriated by the same, Wimal Weerawansa an ultra-nationalist MP brought up the matter in parliament.
"Our heroes are not geckos. If you touch a gecko's tail, it snaps. Our heroes are not like that," he said.
A formal complaint was initially made by a Buddhist monk which sparked the attention of Weerawansa, but the investigation could not proceed as there were no grounds for a criminal investigation. Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman told reporters that this was not an offence and there was only the possibility of a civil action.
Jagath Gunawardana, an Environmental activist and lawyer mentioned his experience when a new species of from was named after him in 2013 following his work for environmental protection. He stated that Weerawansa's objections underscored his ignorance as he reportedly said, "I don't feel insulted, I actually feel very honored."
Geckos are mostly small in size with very soft skin. Having a short stout body, they are equipped with digits possessing adhesive pads. They adapt to various habitats ranging from deserts to jungle. While some species frequent human habitations, and most feed on insects.
Researchers at the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) revealed that three species of animals- the Indian Cheetah, pink-headed duck, and the Great Indian Bustard have become extinct in India. Research indicates that desertification is the cause behind this.
India is not the only country having issues of aridity. A recent report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), functioning under the aegis of the UN, estimated that over a million plant and animal species were at risk.
(With PTI Inputs)