Chinese Giant Salamander
The Chinese Giant Salamander is one of ten highly unusual and endangered amphibians to be targeted by ZSL's EDGE Amphibians initiative. They evolved independently from all other amphibians over one hundred million years before Tyrannosaurus rex, but are now Critically Endangered.
Chinese giant salamander is the largest amphibian species in the world and can grow up to 1.8m in length. They are endemic to rocky mountain streams and lakes in China.
It is considered Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List because of a massive population decline of more than 80% since the 1960s. This has been due to habitat destruction from dam construction and stream pollution, and over-collecting because it is considered a delicacy and used in traditional Chinese medicine. Remaining wild populations are also severely fragmented.
EDGE aims to ensure the future of this salamander by helping to create an environmental education programme encouraging sustainable management of wild populations to increase awareness of the endangered status of the Chinese giant salamander. 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 salamanders, and help set up a captive conservation breeding programme in China. Captive breeding of giant salamanders already occurs in China for food and medicine, so breeding expertise is already well developed there. Finally, it is important that a long-term monitoring programme is established to track the health of remaining wild populations.