The Golden Salamander – Project Presentation


“The Golden Salamander” is a photography and videography project about the gold-striped salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica), which aims to document the different aspects of the species’ biology and, with the resulting material, raise awareness among the general population for the importance of protecting the species, combining art with nature conservation. The project is produced and coordinated by Daniel Santos Photography and by Portugal Selvagem, with the support of Associação de Municípios Parque das Serras do Porto. The project comes to light as a response to the need to protect and unveil the natural heritage of the Parque das Serras do Porto, namely the gold-striped salamander, an ex-libris of local biodiversity. The project’s main target audience is the population of the municipalities of Gondomar, Valongo and Paredes, but it is expected to reach the entire country through digital tools.

© Daniel Santos Photography

The gold-striped salamander is an iconic species of the Portuguese herpetofauna, which means that it can only be found in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. The gold-striped salamander is an unmistakable species of our herpetofauna, given its peculiar morphology. It is a medium-sized salamander, with a very long tail, which corresponds to approximately two thirds of its total length. Along its dark back, has two golden or orange stripes, which come together at the base of the tail.
When threatened, the first option is always to run away, however, if this strategy does not work, the gold-striped salamander displays a trick that no other species of salamander or newt in Portugal is capable of replicating: it can detach its tail, a similar behaviour to those of lizards, but uncommon in amphibians.
Its small size and preference for humid habitats with dense vegetation make its observation a difficult task. In Portugal, the gold-striped salamander is classified as “Vulnerable” by the Red Book of Vertebrates of Portugal, due to a high population fragmentation and to a continued decline in its distribution area and of the number of individuals. Habitat loss is the main cause for this decline and is essentially a result of the destruction of native riparian vegetation and changes in water quality and availability.

© Daniel Santos Photography
  • Make one of Portugal’s most emblematic species well known among the general population – knowledge is the foundation for conservation;
  • Show the importance of protecting and restoring the habitats on which it depends;
  • Reinforce, among the population, the role of the Parque das Serras do Porto in this mission to conserve the gold-striped salamander;
  • Educate the population about the importance of the gold-striped salamander and biodiversity in general.
© Daniel Santos Photography
  • Photographic and educational book;
  • Short documentary;
  • Photography exhibition about the gold-striped salamander;
  • Sessions of environmental education among the local population;
  • Gold-striped salamander population (count of adults, larvae and eggs).
© Daniel Santos Photography
  • March 2024 – March 2025: Environmental education sessions in the 3 municipalities (Gondomar, Valongo and Paredes)
  • February 2024 – April 2025: Photography exhibition across the 3 municipalities (Gondomar, Valongo and Paredes)
  • April 2025: Book presentation
  • April 2025: Documentary premiere
© Daniel Santos Photography

If you want to follow this project, stay tuned to my blog because I will publish the behind the scenes of everything I will be doing.

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