China’s salamander eating festival kicks off

Beijing, Sep 24 (IANS) The Chinese city of Zhangjiajie in Hunan province on Thursday kick-started its endangered giant salamander eating festival with foodies attending the event from all across the country.

“Drink giant salamander tea and live long!” one peddler was shouting as he hawked tea and noodles made from pulverised giant salamanders, which can live for 200 years, Xinhua news agency reported.

Other sellers boasted snacks capable of increasing pregnancy rates.

The festival will host a chef competition during which they will demonstrate the most scrumptious ways of cooking the amphibian.

Giant salamanders, the world’s largest existing amphibian, is placed under state protection in China, but the country’s wildlife protection law allows consumption of the second generations of those born and raised in captivity.

Due to health benefits, the meat of this amphibian comes at exorbitant prices. In Guangdong province, a giant salamander dish can cost more than 5,000 yuan ($780).

Zhangjiajie, known for its scenic mountains and being “China’s home to giant salamanders,” has 108 companies licensed for rearing such animals and 85 others engaged in related food processing or dining.

Local officials said all salamander meat used is from legal farms.

“Giant salamander farming, which requires clean water, actually drives locals to protect the environment,” said Liu Qun, a senior city official.

“The industry also helps lift locals out of poverty.”

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