• Found in China
  • 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..
Conservation Required
  • Establishment of a long-term monitoring programme for the species in different locations across its fragmented range.
  • Environmental education programme to inform people about the plight of the Chinese giant salamander and encourage the sustainable management of its populations in the wild.
  • Improved reserve management to reduce poaching of this species in the wild.
  • A captive breeding programme for conservation purposes in China (where there are currently captive breeding initiatives to supply the demand for the food and medicine trade).

Proposed Actions

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.

More Focal Amphibian species

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Associated Blog Posts
2nd Dec 13
Edge fellow Fang Yan shares news of an initiative to help the recovery of wild Chinese giant salamander populations. During 23rd September to 23rd Octobe...  Read

10th Oct 13
A team of experts from ZSL recently visited our Chinese giant salamander project in China. Head of ZSL's herpetology department Ben Tapley has written this b...  Read

5th Sep 13
This August we held a Chinese Giant Salamander event in Xi’an this was to raise publicity for the species as well as carry out questionnaires with local pa...  Read

12th Aug 13
by Becky Shu Chen (IoZ, ZSL) The Darwin Initiative Project entitled “A sustainable future for Chinese giant salamanders” includes a strong Communi...  Read

24th Jul 13
Following Lv Jingcai's recent blog about the Chinese giant salamander EDGE fellow Yan Fang has written a quick update from the project in China. In order ...  Read

22nd Jul 13
Guest Blog: EDGE Fellow Lv Jingcai talks about a recent workshop for the Chinese giant salamander held in China The field survey workshop of a sustai...  Read

2nd May 13
Zhou Feng's EDGE Fellowship project focuses on diagnosing pathogens that threaten the Chinese giant salamander. In her latest blog, she tell us about the dea...  Read

25th Mar 13
Meet Fang Yan and Lv Jingcai, two EDGE Fellows who will be researching the Chinese giant salamander (CGS) in their home country of China. Found in much of ce...  Read

17th Mar 13
The giant panda is loved by people globally. Its characteristic black and white coat and playful nature has made it a firm favourite with the general public ...  Read

10th Mar 13
Meet Shu Chen, one of our new EDGE Fellows working on the Chinese giant salamander in her native country of China. In this introductory blog, she describes ...  Read

6th Mar 13
My name is Zhou Feng and I come from Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. I am really looking forward to starting my EDGE Fellowship and helping to research and...  Read

7th Jun 12
Over the past month of May, Gabby Wild has been a busy bee. In conjunction with EDGE she launched her campaign to save the Chinese giant salamander, which is...  Read

17th May 11
Zhou Feng is an EDGE Fellow working on the Critically Endangered Chinese giant salamander – EDGE’s highest priority amphibian for conservation action.  ...  Read

8th Dec 10
Darren Naish is a fantastic advocate of everything to do with tetrapod zoology through his excellent blog.  From fossils to modern day creatures, ...  Read