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Central Asian Salamander

The Central Asian Salamander (Randon sibiricus) is a very rare species threatened by extinction. It has another name – the Chinese Salamander, even though it rather resembles a newt. It only lives in the Dzungarian Alatau, which is in the South East of Kazakhstan and North West of China (Xinjiang). Moreover, this species is a genetic rarity in that area.

The most significant populations of the salamander and the main part of its habitat are found within Kazakhstan’s borders. The salamander inhabits mountain rivers only and streams with clean, oxygen rich water.

This amphibian likes its water quite cold (+6 - 16°С) and therefore chooses quite a narrow altitude range, that is between 1,400m and 2,800m above sea level, with optimal temperature being between 1,800 – 2,200m. These are usually on level plateaux or sometimes streams in mountain gorges.

Reasons behind the salamander’s extinction

This species is very sensitive to many elements in its environment and, therefore, will inhabit very few select watercourses of the mountain water system. In mid 90s, the actual population range of the salamander was no greater than 160 square km. At one point the species’ range shrank significantly due to the onset of draughts and the effect of human activity on its habitat. According to latest data, salamander populations in the southern reaches of the species range are particularly under threat due to the shrinking of glaciers on which the mountain rivers depend.

The salamander is under legal protection only in the Verhnykokuysk Protected Area but, even there, many forms of agricultural activity are permitted, which undermines the level of protection for the salamander.

We should rescue the salamander because:

  • This species is the sole species in the genus
  • The species can be found in a very restricted range
  • All the populations of the salamander are not in any way connected to one another
  • The species is very sensitive to many environmental factors such as temperature and humidity
  • The numbers of this species have shrunk due to habitat loss and human agricultural activity
  • The species is not protected by legislation as part of Kazakhstan’s Special Protected Natural Territories