Save the Chinese Giant Salamander

  • by: Edo R
  • target: International Union for Conservation of Nature

The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is the largest salamander and largest amphibian in the world, reaching a length of 180 cm (6 ft), although it rarely – if ever – reaches that size today. It is endemic to rocky, mountain streams and lakes in China, as well as Taiwan, probably as a result of introduction. It is considered critically endangered due to habitat loss, pollution, and overcollection, as it is considered a delicacy and used in folk medicine. It has been listed as one of the top 10 "focal species" in 2008 by the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) project.

In the past, the populous Chinese giant salamander lived along the Yangtze, Yellow, and Pearl Rivers, eighteen provinces in China, and the city of Chongqing. However, since the 1950s, the population has declined rapidly because of habitat destruction and overhunting. The Chinese giant salamander has been listed as Critically Endangered in the Chinese Red Book of Amphibians and Reptiles. Despite the Chinese Government listing the salamander as a Class II Protected Species, 100 salamanders are hunted illegally every year in the Hupingshan Natural Reserve alone. Prior to the 1980s, Chinese giant salamanders were abundant and easily found. Today, when researchers search for salamanders, their attempts are fruitless. The Chinese giant salamander is on the verge of extinction, but many provinces still purchase thousands of salamanders for consumption. Also, despite the 14 nature reserves, populations are still declining, with salamanders becoming more difficult to find.

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