An elegant green gecko

Nearly 20 years ago I was thrilled to find green geckos on the family farm. Back then they were known as the Auckland green gecko, but they are found well beyond the Auckland Region so now they usually go by the common name of elegant gecko. The elegant title is also reflected in their scientific name — Naultinus elegans. They must have been reasonably common in the area back then because I had little trouble finding them, and one was even found in some farm machinery left out overnight. Unfortunately I had neither the skill or the equipment to photograph them well. Over the years I began to realise just how bad my photos of them were. I tried repeatedly to find them again but without any success. I’ve heard similar stories from several other people who used to see them commonly in their youth, but no longer do. Our green geckos are vulnerable to predation by cats and other introduced pests. On top of that is the sickening smuggling of green geckos from the wild for the the overseas pet trade (all wild geckos in NZ are legally protected). Local populations of green geckos are blinking out around the country, and some species appear to be in terminal decline. My hopes for that population I found when I was younger are not great. On a brighter note, I recently managed to find a couple of elegant geckos at a new site, and with a local community group working on pest control in the area hopefully they are more secure there.
Green geckos are very photogenic, but they are also very agile and their vivid green skin provides remarkably good camouflage. I managed a just few photos this time, but better than I had before and hopefully they’ll still be there for many years to come.

Elegant/Auckland green gecko
An elegant gecko (also known as Auckland green gecko) climbing on a manuka shrub. Caught licking its lips, it shows the blue tongue and mouth lining that separates this species from some of the other green geckos. Taken with a Canon 1D Mark IV, EF100mm f/2.8 macro USM, 1/250 s at f11, ISO 100, and several flashes.