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Gecko names anger Sinhala nationalists and Buddhist monks

The naming of new gecko species after mythical Sinhala nationalist figures has angered nationalist parliamentarians and Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka.

At least six new geckos were named by scientists after Sinhala mythical figures, including giant warriors Nandimithra and Gotaimbara, who reportedly fought against the Tamil Chola King. The practice follows that of the Sri Lankan military, which has named colonised villages and statues in honour of the mythical figures.

Four other reptiles were named after Sinhala chiefs from the 1818 Uva rebellion against British colonial rule, who Sri Lanka’s president had called "patriotic national heroes". 

However, the move sparked anger from parliamentarian and National Freedom Front lawmaker Wimal Weerawansa who proclaimed to Sri Lanka’s parliament “our heroes are not geckos.” 

“If you touch a gecko’s tail, it snaps,” he said. “Our heroes are not like that.”

Meanwhile, Buddhist groups have reportedly complained to Sri Lanka’s police chief in writing, with a preliminary probe reportedly started.

See more from Mongabay here and the AFP here.