Archive for the ‘Gecko’ Category

Warrior of Wellassa rebellion lives on in tiny gecko

July 24, 2019

New Gecko Godagedaras’ Day Gecko – Cnemaspis godagedarai (c) Chen Lee

While Keppetipola Disawe is the best-known chieftain who fought in the 1817 Wellassa rebellion against the British, another warrior, often forgotten, has now been honoured in the naming of a newly-discovered gecko found only in Sri Lanka.

The name of the hero, Godagedara Rate Adhikaram, now lives on in Cnemaspis godagedarai, or Godagedaras’ Day Gecko, which inhabits a small area in Ensalwatte, Deniyaya, in the Matara district.

The new species is a diurnal gecko, active in daytime, unlike nocturnal species such as the common house gecko or “hoona”. It is tiny, 34-35mm long. In comparison, house geckos can grow to 75-150mm. Godagedaras’ Day Gecko was first observed by well-known herpetologist Dr. Anslem de Silva in 2018. Fellow researcher Suranjan Karunaratne combed the Ensalwatte area to find more geckos of same species and establish its identity scientifically.

Their study, co-authored by Aaron M. Bauer and Madhava Botejue, was published this month in the international herpetology peer-reviewed journal, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

The forest patches of Ensalwatte are linked to the Sinharaja rainforest and home to a number of creatures found only in the area. Only about six specimens of the newly-discovered gecko have so far been observed, causing it to be categorised as “critically endangered”.

Most geckos do not have eyelids and have to lick their own eyes to clean them of dust and dirt. Specialised toe pads help them to climb vertical surfaces such as walls, or even cross ceilings. Most geckos can detach their tails in defence. Mr. Karunaratne said Godagedaras’ Day Gecko has these abilities.

Sri Lanka’s list of geckos has now risen to 48 with this discovery; nearly all of them are not found anywhere else in the world. Most of the wild geckos are sensitive to environmental changes and most of their habitats are shrinking, making them a group vulnerable to extinction.

New gecko’s Habitat of Ensalwatthe (c) Suranjan Karunarathna

A new huna emerges from unprotected Salgala forest

October 16, 2016
 Published on SundayTimes on 25.09.2016

Herpetologist Mendis Wickramasinghe who revealed a brightly-coloured new tree snake from the Sinharaja forest last week has now announced the discovery of a new endemic gecko, found in the Salgala forest in Kegalle district.

The gecko, or huna in Sinhala, is a familiar creature: most of our houses are inhabited by a family of “house geckos” that mostly come out at dusk. The new gecko is different, being mostly active during the daytime. It prefers rocky habitats and is also smaller than the house gecko.

The researcher first found this Salgala gecko in 2012 while exploring the least explored areas of the country to fill in the gaps in knowledge on the reptiles and amphibians that live in those habitats. The research team found a healthy population of this gecko living in the wild around the Salgala area and also inhabiting outer walls of some of the houses close to the forest.

The new gecko is scientifically described as Cnemaspis rajakarunai, named in honour of Henry Rajakaruna, one of the masters of Sri Lankan photography, in recognition of his services to promote Fine Art Photography for over half a century. Mr.Rajakaruna perfected a technique of low shutter speed motion capture internationally known as “Rajakaruna style”.

In common language the Salgala gecko is called  Rajakarunage diva huna, Rajakaruna pahalpalli and Rajakaruna’s day gecko in Sinhala, Tamil and in English, respectively.

Geckos are interesting creatures: they lack eyelids and have a transparent skin that they clean by licking. It also has a well-known defence mechanism of being able to lose its tail. While a predator is distracted by a still-alive detached tail, the gecko is able to hide in a safe place and, in time, grow a new tail.

Geckos move upside down on ceilings using specialised adhesive toe pads that enable them to climb smooth, vertical surfaces. Geckos shed their skin and, it is said, is able to replace each of their 100 teeth every three to four months.

The new discovery brings to 45 the number of gecko species in Sri Lanka. There are about 1,500 species worldwide.


Salgala, where the new discovery was made, is a few kilometres away from Galapitamada, where the critically-endangered freshwater fish, bandula barb, has its sole habitat. Salgala is an unprotected forest patch, and that is of concern to researchers. Mr. Wickramasinghe said there was an urgent need to survey the unprotected ecosystems there since other new species awaiting discovery could perish if the habitat was destroyed.

Mr.Wickramasinghe’s work has been assisted by the Ministry of Environment, the Nagao Natural Environment Foundation and principal sponsor, Dilmah Conservation. Dulan Vidanapathirana and Gayan Rathnayake helped him with the research.

The new gecko was named after Henry Rajakaruna

The new gecko was named after Henry Rajakaruna

Unique photography techniques by Henry Rajakaruna

Unique photography techniques by Henry Rajakaruna


Dance in Trance – Unique photography techniques by Henry Rajakaruna