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Gecko Smuggling: Philippine Police Rescue 1,600 Lizards In Warehouse

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Living geckos are held in cage before being killed and dried for export to be used in medicine and skin care products on May 6, 2010 in Probolinggo, East Java, Indonesia. | Getty File

MANILA, Philippines -- An official says police have rescued more than 1,600 geckos in a southern Philippine warehouse they suspect would have been smuggled to Asian countries.

The Philippines has expressed alarm over the growing trade in the wall-climbing lizards. They are used as aphrodisiacs or traditional medicine for asthma, AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and impotence in countries like China, South Korea and Malaysia.

An 11-ounce (300-gram) gecko reportedly sells for at least 50,000 pesos ($1,160).

Police Senior Supt. Albert Ferro said Wednesday the export of exotic reptiles like geckos is prohibited. Police are preparing criminal complaints against six people who kept the geckos in a warehouse in General Santos city where some lizards have died in boxes.

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