"Wildlife photographer Yukihiro Fukuda first began diving in the cool waters of
the Hino River in south-western Japan 15 years ago. But it was not until six
years later that he was able to capture the extraordinary image of a male
Japanese giant salamander guarding hundreds of eggs, which gained him a place
in the finals of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, staged by
London’s Natural History Museum. The salamander was named Fukuda-kun in his
It was the first time the nesting behaviour of these mysterious amphibians,
which it is thought could live up to 100 years and whose biology has changed
little over the last 23m years, had been caught on camera.
But then, for four years, Fukuda-kun was nowhere to be seen. “He got stuck
beneath a dam downstream,” says Fukuda, before the salamander eventually
managed to make his way around the barrier.
The second largest of the world’s three main giant salamander species (the
others are in China and the US), Japanese giant salamanders (Andrias
) can grow up to 1.5 metres in length. The heaviest specimen on
record is in Tottori Prefectural Museum and weighs 44.3kg. Despite their size,
these creatures face multiple threats, among them the weirs, dams and concrete
riverbanks that fragment their habitat in the rivers of central and western
Japan – the only places where this species lives in the wild."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics