Flora and fauna of the Russian Far East

Flora and fauna of the Far East are known for the peculiar combination of the northern and southern nature. Different trees and shrubs in this area mingle and form a wonderful mosaic. Many kinds of plants and animal species are endemic for far-eastern mixed forests.

Inimitable in its beauty the Far Eastern taiga is the real wonder of this area. The Far East is the only place in the world where one can meet this fabulous natural phenomenon – south-north wild life interfacing. Only here one can find plants belonging to tundra and light coniferous forests growing side by side: the southern magnolia vines (shizandra chinensis), aralia, ginseng, eleutherococus, wild grape, Manchurian walnut, grow next to huge cedars, a birch grows beside a bamboo, cork-tree woods grow on the hill slopes side by side with a spruce and fir-tree, maples and oaks grow next to yew-trees.

Forest covers over half of the total area of this territory. The stock of wood is about 200 different varieties, the most valuable are – ash, oak, larch, spruce, pine, cedar, cork-tree. Forest is called a “Green Gold” and all possible measures should be taken to preserve and to make the most efficient use of it.

The vegetation is also rich in herbs, flowers, medicinal shrubs and fruit-bearing plants. The most beautiful relict plant – Komorov’s lotus – can be found in the lakes of the Primorye and Priamurye. There are many berries in taiga, such as honeysuckle, cranberry, bilberry and cowberry among others.

The Far Eastern fauna also displays a great variety, ranging from peculiar butterflies to the Himalayan black bear, Far-Eastern snow leopard, Amur tiger. Tiger is the biggest of all wild cats and the Amur tiger is the biggest of tiger species. The Amur tiger and Far-Eastern leopard belong to the group of endangered species. The Far-Eastern leopard is nearly extinct. Very few leopards are still living in the south of the Primorye. There are valuable fur-bearing animals, such as ermines, sables and arctic foxes in the north. It is impossible even to imagine all species of animals and birds living in the Far Eastern taiga forests. There are Amur tigers, Manchurian deer, or red deer, musk deer, Siberian roe deer, elks, wild boars, common and red wolves, racoon dogs, weasels, wolverines, badges, wild cats, martens, lynxes, beavers, Manchurian hares, goral (wild goat) and bighorn sheep in the mountains among them. Northern (reindeer or cariboe) deer are numerous in the north. The humid southern forests are paradise for different species of frogs and snakes. The basin of the Amur river is also the home for the Far-Eastern leatherback turtle (Chinese soft shell turtle).

The bird colonies are impressive too like Far-Eastern white storks and black storks, Japanese cranes, mandarian ducks, black grouses, hazel grouse, pheasants, herons, great cormorants, etc. In the Far East there are large amounts of waterfowl. Of birds of prey, erne and black kite feeding by fish are staying near water. Above meadows and fields one can see hawk and golden eagle. The largest eagle in the world inhabits Kamchatka. Such night birds of prey as fish eagle owl and polar owl are listed into Red Data Book.

On the seashores of the Pacific one can find breeding-grounds of sea lions as well as those of common and ribbon seals. There are also whales, walruses and sea (river) otters.

There are over 125 000 rivers and over 60 000 lakes in the Far East of Russia. They are teeming with over 140 species of fish, including sturgeons, black and mirror carps, bream, taimen (trout), lenok, snakehead, black and white Amur, Amur pike, Aucha fish, kaluga, the biggest fresh water fish in the world. Pacific salmons are running for spawning to the taiga rivers.

The seas are rich in invertebrates, such as trepangs (sea cucumbers), scallops, mussels, shrimps, prawns, oysters, as well as algae of which there are about 550 different varieties. The waters of Kamchatka are famous for their crabs.

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