The Chinese giant salamander is the world’s largest amphibian species and can live for over 50 years.
The giant salamanders diverged from all other amphibian species an estimated 170 million years ago – that is over a hundred million years before Tyrannosaurus rex. They are highly evolutionarily distinct and, with only three giant salamander remaining on earth, they have very few close relatives.
They can grow to a maximum length of 1.8 meters. One publication in 1983 even claimed that a 3 metre long, 70 kg individual was purchased in the Sang Zhi Prefecture in the Hunan Province.
Lives in the fast-flowing mountain stream tributaries of the Yangtze, Pearl and Yellow Rivers.
Over exploitation for the food trade and traditional medicine market in China.
The destruction, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat as a result of the construction of dams altering stream flow, the contamination of its streams by polluting land uses and the siltation of these streams following deforestation.
Increased use of pesticides in its range may present a serious threat to this species.
There has been a drastic population decline (of up to 80%) in the wild since the 1960s. The Chinese giant salamander is now classified as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List..
EDGE aims to ensure the future of this salamander by helping to create an environmental
education programme encouraging sustainable management of wild populations.
The Chinese giant salamander is the largest amphibian species in the world, growing up to
1.8 metres, and can live for over 50 years. This species is classified as Critically Endangered
in the IUCN Red List because of a massive population decline of more than 80% since the 1960s.
This decline is caused by a combination of over-exploitation for human consumption and the
traditional medicine market, and habitat destruction and degradation from dam construction,
stream pollution and siltation after deforestation of the surrounding area. Remaining wild
populations are also severely fragmented.
EDGE aims to increase awareness of the endangered status of the Chinese giant salamander by
helping to implement an environmental awareness programme informing people about the species
and advising on the sustainable management of wild populations. Alongside raising awareness,
we will fund an EDGE Fellow to collect more data on the population ecology, behaviour and threats
to this species in the Qinling Mountains of central China.
EDGE plans to contribute to the
improvement of reserve management in this area to reduce poaching of wild individuals, and help
set up a captive breeding programme for conservation purposes in China (where all current captive
breeding is for food and medicine). Finally, it is important that a long-term monitoring programme
is established for the species, which includes many locations across the fragmented range of the
Chinese giant salamander, starting with the main project focus region of the Quinling Mountains.
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