A park ranger in south China caught a rare Chinese salamander recently to the shock of experts, who have described the amphibian as critically endangered.
The salamander weighs 12 pounds and is known as the world’s largest living amphibian. The man who discovered the creature, known only as Mr. Xiao, caught it swimming near Heyuan City in China’s Guangdong Province.
After keeping it in a tank, Mr. Xiao released the creature back into a river accompanied by fascinated tourists.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, the giant salamander is a protected species in China and critically endangered. Despite its status, however, the salamander is considered a delicacy among wealthy Chinese citizens. The eating of giant salamanders has, in large part, contributed to its endangered status since 1985.
Recently, a government investigation led to the discovery of certain Chinese officials consuming the amphibian at a luxury banquet in Shenzhen. Those convicted of eating the creature could face up to ten years in jail.
To some, the giant salamander is believed to have anti-ageing benefits. Others value the amphibian for its place in Chinese mythology. It is known as the “baby fish” in Chinese for its baby-like cry.