Orraya occultus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Carphodactylidae

Scientific Name: Orraya occultus (Couper, Covacevich & Moritz, 1993)
Common Name(s):
English Long-necked Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko
Saltuarius occultus Couper, Covacevich & Moritz, 1993
Identification information: This species has a distinct long neck with a flat body. The original tail is flat and tear-drop shaped, edged by clusters of sharply pointed spines. When regenerated, the tail is round, smooth and flat with spiny tubercles around the margins. Orraya occultus is grey with dark mottling (Wilson and Swan 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D1+2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2018
Date Assessed: 2017-06-13
Assessor(s): Hoskin, C., Couper, P. & Amey, A.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Contributor(s): Harrison, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Powney, G.
Orraya occultus has been assessed as Vulnerable. The species has an extremely small area of occupancy of less than 20 km², the global population - estimated from the low density at known sites and the extent of available habitat - is thought likely to be well below 1,000 mature individuals, and it may be suffering from natural predation pressure that could exacerbate the impacts of any future declines. The species is of very high interest to the illegal pet trade and any future intrusion for illegal collecting of the species may have dramatic effects on its population numbers as even a single collection event could be sufficient to lead to a significant decline. Monitoring should be periodically carried out to ensure that any unauthorised human activity in the area is detected.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is only known from northeastern Queensland, Australia, from the Peach Creek area of the McIlwraith Range (Couper 1993), and is thought to be endemic to the region. It may occur in other creek lines within this area, but has not been confirmed from any other sites (P. Couper pers. comm. 2017). Its extent of occurrence is estimated as approximately 204 km², but its area of occupancy within this is thought to be less than 20 km². It occurs at the highest point of the McIlwraith Range, at 824 m asl. (P. Couper pers. comm. 2017).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Queensland)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:20
Number of Locations:1
Lower elevation limit (metres):500
Upper elevation limit (metres):824
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is very scarce even within an extensive area of apparently suitable habitat. Despite survey efforts specifically aimed at locating this species, it is still only known from a few specimens (Anthony 1998). Although it can be found on visits to the known sites, it requires extensive survey effort to record any individuals and densities are much lower than for related leaf-tailed geckos (C. Hoskin pers. comm. 2017). While the species might well occur in other creeks within the range, it is likely that it will occur at low densities in these, possibly with fewer than 50 animals in any given creek, and the global population is thought to be well below 1,000 mature individuals (C. Hoskin pers. comm. 2017).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:50-1000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species has been found at night in granite boulders within the rainforest (Couper et al. 1993). Juveniles of the species are likely to be preyed upon by the Ring-tailed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus tuberculatus), which is abundant in the same habitat (P. Couper pers. comm. 2017).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: While not presently known to occur in trade this species is of extremely high interest to the illegal pet trade.  It has been listed among the ten most desired geckos on chat lists, and is a recognized target of known leaf tail gecko smugglers based on internet traffic (P. Couper pers. comm. 2017).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

There is some degradation of the rainforest by feral pigs in areas adjacent to the gecko site. However, this may have little impact on the geckos which are well-buffered within their boulder habitat.  The gecko site is within a national park and there is no development or land clearing. While Australian geckos are popular and widely sought after in the reptile trade, there is no evidence of illegal collecting of this species. It is nevertheless of particular interest and there have been known efforts to reach or identify the locality by people who have shared locality data for other sensitive species (P. Couper pers. comm. 2017).

It is possible that this species' rainforest habitat may be threatened by climate change in the future (Williams et al. 2003). It has been predicted that a 1°C warming would decrease the abundance of highland rainforest by 50% in the Wet Tropics (Hughes 2003). However, it is currently unknown what effect this may be having on the species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The known distribution of this species already falls within a protected area to which access is extremely limited (Kulla National Park). To access this park permission is required from the traditional owners of the land (Kulla Land Trust) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The species is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland (Wilson and Swan 2013). Further research into its population status and distribution is recommended and field surveys are required to determine if this species is more broadly distributed in the McIlwraith Range. The gecko site should be periodically monitored to ensure that there are no signs of unauthorised human activity in the area. It is important to assess the effect potential future threats, such as collection and climate change, may have on this small and restricted population.

Citation: Hoskin, C., Couper, P. & Amey, A. 2018. Orraya occultus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T178382A83325202. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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