Fire salamander movie

Death in the forest – our fire salamander documentary

May 4, 2021In News


The salamander killer is on the loose – and what we can do about it

Overshadowed by the Corona pandemic, a tragedy is also happening in our native hardwood forests. CC produced this fire salamander movie that shows how an introduced fungal disease is killing local fire salamanders that come in contact with it. Discovered about a decade ago, the disease initially spread “on foot” in the tri-border region of Germany – Holland – Belgium. But now it occurred, what scientists feared for a long time: The fungus has jumped. Initial outbreaks in Bavaria in the spring of 2020 mark a new phase of this epidemic, because they mean that potentially all fire salamander populations are at risk, and drastically so – because unlike Covid-19 in humans, mortality in fire salamanders in the case of Bsal is one hundred percent. An infected salamander will die if left untreated.

The key question: intervene or simply watch?

Knowledge obliges. How should we react to this acute threat to the fire salamander, which, being a German “species of special responsibility“, has highest priority? The dream of an intact nature, which is best left alone, would mean to watch the eradication of all fire salamanders inactively. The fungus is spread not only by human boots, but also by ducks’ feet and newts’ legs, so even locking people out would not help. What remains, then, is courageous intervention. Accepting responsibility always means the willingness to take risks. We know that Bsal can be cured: we have to give it our best shot. Only in human care can salamanders be saved from infested populations. So we have to do it, even if we cannot know today how and when the way back to the wild will open up.

The good thing about documentaries: no need to intervene, you can simply watch.

Author Susann Knakowske accompanied scientists, conservationists and animal owners on film for over a year. It wasn’t planned, it just turned out that way. Because neither Corona nor the Bsal jump to Bavaria were on the filming schedule when we began preparations for a fire salamander documentary at the end of 2019. And this story is far from over. But the first film is ready and gives an overview of the state of affairs regarding salamander eaters in spring 2021.

Endangered fire salamander

Help us save the fire salamander

Citizen Conservation is coordinating a project for the salvation of our domestic fire salamander. Find out more about our plans and how you may support us here.

> Visit our fire salamander emergency page