The Chinese giant salamander is the largest salamander in the world, reaching a length of 180 cm (6 ft). Found in mountain streams and lakes in China it is considered critically endangered due to habitat loss, pollution, and over-exploitation as a food source.
It was listed as one of the top-10 “focal species” in the year 2008 by the EDGE project (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered).
It’s habitat in China has recently suffered in the past couple of decades. Concrete dams that once destroyed the salamander’s habitat are now fitted with stairs so the Giant Chinese Salamander can easily navigate the dam.
The Chinese giant salamander Andrias davidianus once lived along the Yangtze, Yellow, and Pearl Rivers, eighteen provinces in China, and the city of Chongquing. Since the 1950s their population has declined rapidly because of habitat destruction and overhunting. It is now listed as Critically Endangered by the Chinese Government in the Red Book of Amphibians and Reptiles. Despite listing the salamander as a Class II Protected Species, 100 salamanders are hunted illegally every year in the Hupingshan Natural Reserve.
Prior to the 1980s, Chinese giant salamanders were abundant and easily found. Today the Chinese giant salamander is on the verge of extinction, but many provinces still purchase thousands of salamanders for food. Despite the fourteen nature reserves, populations are still declining with the salamanders becoming harder and harder to find.