We want the AmurInfoCenter site to be comfortable and interesting for you. We work with web analytics to become better. Cookies are used to collect analytical data. All information is completely confidential and is never passed on to third parties. Confirm your agreement with the policy regarding cookies or learn more about the technology.


Key species of the amur ecoregion

The Amur ecoregion is No. 1 in the rate of biodiversity in northern Eurasia. Conservation of rare, endangered species is a one of the WWF priorities. The WWF Amur branch operates on the basis of an eco-regional strategy and is focused on the conservation of nine flagship species - Amur tiger, Amur leopard, Oriental stork, Dzeren (Mongolian gazelle), Red-crowned and White-naped cranes, Goral, Kaluga (fish), Amur sturgeon and Amur softshell turtle. These species are indicator species: well-being of such species indicates the balance the entire ecosystem in which they live. Extinction of indicator species is followed with an irreversible chain destruction and collapse of the ecosystem. Reintroduction is a complex and time-consuming process that can take very long time.

Amur tiger

Amur tiger

Conservation of the Amur tiger is based on the federal project "Conservation of Biological Diversity and Development of Ecological Tourism", which is a part of the national project "Ecology".

Over the past 100 years, the number of tigers in the wild decreased by 97% (from 100K to 3.5K animals). There is an active illegal trade in derivatives (body parts) of tigers. According to TRAFFIC estimates, 2000-2014 authorities registered more than 1,500 illegal deals with tiger derivatives over the world. This problem is most serious in the Southeast Asia. In some countries of SEA tigers can extinct.

Tiger is under international protection, it is included into the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 of CITES. Since 1947, there has been a complete ban on hunting tigers. In 1955, trapping of tiger cubs was banned, later it was strictly limited. With the support of WWF and other conservation organizations, total number of tigers in the world has stabilized or even increased. According to 2018 data, there are about 4,500 tigers in the wild around the world. Total number of tigers is India is 2,965, in Indonesia - 390, in Malaysia – about 100, in Nepal - 235, in Thailand - 160. Other countries of the "tiger" range are Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, and Myanmar.

In Russia, the total number of Amur tigers, according to the census in 2021, is about 750 individuals. in 2015 it ranged from 523 to 540 individuals. Of these, there are about 430 adult predators. In 1996, the population was approximately 415–476 individuals.

Amur leopard

Amur leopard

Amur leopard is listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, hunting for it has been prohibited since 1956, and in 1966 a ban on catching live animals was introduced. It is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In 2012, with the WWF’s support, National Park "Land of the Leopard" was organized. Now almost all Far Eastern leopards in Russia live in that PA in Primorsky Province of Russia. WWF supports the work of firefighting teams that help protect leopard habitats from fire, promotes monitoring and researching on genetic state of the Amur leopards, supports the implementation of sustainable environmental management practices in leopard habitats.

In spite of the formidable appearance, Amur leopard is one of the most peaceful animals. There are no registered cases of leopard-human conflicts in the entire history of observation. Leopards tend to avoid any contacts with humans. Experts often say: "If you do not see a leopard, this does not mean that leopard is not watching you at this same moment." However, leopard will not attempt any contact.

Amur leopard is a solitary animal. Only female leopards stay with the cubs for a long time. Male leopards live and die alone. Like any loners, they do not allow any neighbor leopards in their areas. Fights between males are sometimes quite desperate. Unlike males, female leopards treat each other quite calmly. In the same way, they tolerate their own children in their territories, which is not typical for large predators.

The most dangerous natural enemy of the Amur leopard is the Amur tiger. Animals compete with each other for hunting areas. It has been proven that brown bears can also attack leopards, and Himalayan bears compete with them in search of a den.

There are also other threats to Amur leopard, such as: poaching, deforestation, wildfires, agricultural burns and construction of roads.

There were only about 30-35 leopards left in the wild by the time when systematic conservation processes started in Russia. Nowadays, it’s very important to increase the population and genetic diversity of this rare big cat. According to the results of census in 2021, the number of leopards increased to 121 individuals, but still leopards live in a relatively small area and interact only with each other, so the genetic diversity is deteriorating. To create a new "group" of leopards, it was decided to bring some leopards from zoos located in other regions and countries. They will be placed in a specially built center not far from the Lazovsky Reserve. When a stable group is formed there, they will be introduced to the main natural population that lives in the southwest of Primorsky province. With the proper organization of "ecological corridors" animals will meet in the wild.

Dzeren (mongolian gazelle)

Dzeren (Mongolian gazelle)

Dzeren is included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation (2001), proposed for inclusion in its new edition in the same category 1 as an endangered species. Also, dzeren is included in the Red Books of the Republics of Tyva (2002), Altai (2007), Buryatia (2013), Trans-Baikal Territory (2012).

Dzeren is a migratory, highly herd species of ungulates, a typical inhabitant of wide open territories. Dzeren population consists of several very large central groups (up to thousands of individuals). They are mostly migratory, but some smaller groups are settled on the periphery of the range.

Until the beginning of 20th century, dzeren inhabited a vast territory, occupying most of Central Asia steppes. In the west, the range covered the Great Lakes basin up to the highlands of the Mongolian Altai. Northwestern part of dzeren range included the steppe regions of Altai and Tuva, northen part of the range reached the forests of Khangai, Khentei and the ridges of Transbaikalia. Eastern border of the range covered the forested part of the Greater Khingan from the south, reached the river Sungari-. Southeastern range reached the river Huanghe. In the south, dzeren inhabited the Gobi Desert. In the middle of the 20th century, dzeren total range area in Mongolia only was 780 km2.

In Russia, the range of dzeren occupied a total area of about 136,000 km2. In the very west, the range included the Chuya and Kurai basins with the foothills of the surrounding South-Eastern ranges, as well as the Ubsunur basin and the southern foothills of the East Tannu-Ola ridge in Tuva (with some parts of the northern slope and the Tuva basin), the steppes of the South-Western bordering Mongolia Transbaikalia (Buryatia), where dzeren stayed only during the period of migrations, and most widely spread over the territory of South-Eastern Transbaikalia within the current Transbaikal Territory.

Main threats to dzeren are degradation, destruction and fragmentation of its natural habitats. Special, scientifically based efforts are needed to preserve rare and endemic species from extinction, especially those using large territories. Special, scientifically based efforts are needed to preserve rare and endemic species from extinction, especially those using large territories.

Oriental stork

Oriental stork

Oriental stork is one of the rarest birds in the Russian Far East. It is endangered and listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation. For a long time, Oriental stork was mistakenly considered a subspecies of the white stork, but recently it has been proven that this is a separate species. Oriental stork is larger than the white stork and has a black beak.

Oriental stork is a very vulnerable species. Multiple problems can cause its extinction. Major threats include decrease in number of natural poles suitable for stork nesting, destruction of habitats by fires and deforestation, drying up of wetlands where Oriental storks prefer to settle, food shortage, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Construction of hydroelectric power stations leads to the violation of natural river regime. due to, the use of that lead to poisoning.

WWF has been engaged in the conservation of Oriental stork in Russia since 1998. Fund supports protection of existing stork nests, expansion of the nesting capacity (installation of new artificial poles, “nest” baskets on poles and trees), protection of Oriental stork food base, monitoring on model sites, development of new Protected Areas (PAs) in Oriental stork habitats. Fund is also actively working with energy companies to protect birds and prevent accidents on power lines, cooperates with specialists from China, Japan and South Korea to save Oriental storks on their flyway.

Conservation efforts help to increase the population of Oriental stork.Total number of Oriental storks in the Amur basin has doubled to 220 pairs. According to expert estimates, the total number of Oriental storks in the world is approaching 4,000.

Red-crowned crane

Red-crowned crane

Red-crowned crane is the rarest crane inhabited in the Amur-Heilong basin and No.2 rarest crane in the world. Its total population in the world is only about 2,800-3,000 individuals. Approximately 1,500 of Red-crowned cranes permanently settle in Japan and do not migrate to the continent.

Red-crowned crane is the largest and the rarest crane living in Russia. Weight of this crane can reach 11 kg, height is up to 160 cm, wingspan is up to 2.5 meters. Combination of white and black feathers, thin neck and legs and natural ability to move gracefully make this bird one of the most beautiful in the world. A distinctive feature of the Red-crowned crane is a red "cap" on the head and a dark "mask" with no plumage on the head front.

Red-crowned crane photos

Red-crowned crane is an endangered species due to a fast reduction of the undeveloped lands, rapid expansion of agricultural land, construction of dams on large and small rivers. Birds just have no places to feed and nest. Another problem is the centuries-old Japanese hunt for cranes because of their feathers. Fortunately, this kind of hunting was banned and the number of cranes in Japan has begun to grow slowly.

Nowadays, the population of this beautiful cranes is approximately 2.2 thousand individuals and they are listed in the International Red List and the Red Book of Russia. Gradual increase in total population of the Red-crowned crane on the island of Hokkaido (Japan) led to gradual move of some cranes to the neighboring islands of Kunashir, Sakhalin, and Habomai (Russia).

White-naped crane

White-naped crane

White-naped crane is one of the rarest cranes listed in the International Red List. There are less than 4,9-5.3 thousand of white-naped cranes in the world.

The only crane whose legs are pink. Endemic of East Asia, inhabiting the Amur basin - northeast of China and Mongolia, southeast of Russia. One of the most human-tolerant species, nesting in wetlands among fields, near settlements and places frequently visited by people. Unlike the Japanese crane, white-naped can nest in burnt areas.

Nesting area of this species generally coincides with the historical region of Dauria, named after the Daur people, who inhabited Transbaikalia and the western part of the Amur region until the middle of the 17th century. This region is located at the junction of three countries: Russia, China, and Mongolia.

Droughts, fires, poaching lead to steady decrease in total population of the white-naped crane in their nesting area. Decrease trend has not yet been stopped even in the Daursky Natural Reserve. In the end of the 20th century, up to 15 pairs nested in the delta of the Uldza river and in the floodplain of the Imalka River, but all cranes left their nesting sites in mid-2000’s due to long-term droughts.White-naped cranes can be watched in the second half of August and in September, when birds gather in flocks and roam the fields. The Torey lakes have long served as a gathering place for cranes from the Trans-Baikal part of their range before flying off for wintering; in years with good weather conditions, hundreds of birds can gather there.

Amur softshell turtle (trionyx)

Amur softshell turtle (trionyx)

Just like a Oriental stork, Amur softshell turtle is an indicator of the ecological conditions of freshwater ecosystems in the Amur River basin.

Amur softshell is the largest turtle in Russia, not counting marine ones. Within its family, it reaches only medium sizes. Maximum length of trionyx shell is about 40 cm (weight is up to 4.5 kg). Shell of the young ones is round, covered on top with longitudinal rows of small tubercles, which later merge into ridges. Shell of the adult trionics is flat and smooth and has ovoid shape.

Amur softshell turtle or northern Chinese softshell turtle inhabits eastern, central and southern China, northern Vietnam, Korea, Japan; introduced to the Marianas (Guam) and Hawaiian Islands. In Russia it occurs only in the south of the Russian Far East in the basin of the Amur and Ussuri rivers and their large tributaries, as well as on Lake Khanka.

Population of trionyx in Russia is decreasing and its range is shrinking. Turtles are quite rare almost everywhere and are found sporadically. The highest concentration of trionics was noted on Lake Khanka, where the largest specimens were found, in the valley of the Ussuri River and on Lake Gassi of the Nanai region in the Khabarovsk Province. Main factors leading to depopulation are are summer floods, which wash away egg clutches; extermination of clutches by mammals (raccoon dog, fox, badger, sometimes wild boar) and birds (ravens) direct and indirect human impact.

Amur sturgeon

Amur sturgeon

AMUR STURGEON is an anadromous species. Its range includes the Amur Estuary, adjacent parts of the Sakhalin Bay and the Tatar Strait.

intellect.jpgFreshwater habitat of the Amur sturgeon covers several thousand kilometers from desalinated areas and rivers of the Amur Estuary and Sakhalin Bay to the upper reaches of the Amur river, including the basins of the Shilka, Argun, Zeya, Bureya, Sungari, Ussuri (from Lake Khanka), and Amgun rivers. It is also found in the floodplain lakes of the Lower Amur: Orel-Chlya, Kadi, Kizi, Bolon, etc. Amur sturgeon is a typical bottom fish.

Body length of adult Amur sturgeon is more than 3 m, weight exceeds 160 kg. Females go mature and spawn at the age of 8–14 years. By that time female Amur sturgeon has body length of 105–125 cm and weight of 6–12 kg. Spawning is not annual, the interval between spawning of females is at least 4 years. Males become mature at the age of 7–12 years when their body length reaches 95–110 cm and weight is 4–10 kg. Male Amur strugreon spawns every 4 years. Spawning period is June–July on sandy-pebble soils in sections of the river with a fast current and depths of 2–3 m. Fertility is 29-1,057K eggs, depending on the weight and body length of the female Amur sturgeon. The larval period is about 15-18 days. Then the fry make so-called “candles” through the water column to the surface, they slide downstream, occupying water areas with a sufficient concentration of benthos and a low concentration of fellows. Adults feed on corbicula - a bivalve mollusk, caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies and freshwater shrimp, sometimes minnows.

According to the data of the Khabarovsk branch of VNIRO, over the past 15 years spawning stocks in the middle reaches of the Amur river have decreased at least tenfold due to overfishing of parental generations by Chinese fishermen in the 1980s and due to the increased poaching in the lower Amur river.



KALUGA is a giant ancient fish. Typical predator.

intellect.jpgThe range is similar to that of the Amur sturgeon. It extends for several thousand kilometers from the desalinated sections of the Amur estuary to the upper reaches of the Amur, including the basins of the Shilka, Argun, Zeya, Bureya, Sungari, Ussuri rivers with Lake Khankoy, Amgun, as well as floodplain lakes of the lower Amur river. As kaluga population decreased significantly, nowadays it rarely rises above the city of Blagoveshchensk. For feeding, it habitually goes to the Amur estuary and adjacent desalinated areas, where it spends several years. Kaluga concentrations are related to the concentration of the main food items (pink salmon, chum salmon, herring, smelt).

Kaluga reaches a length of 6 m and weight of 1,200 kg. Female goes mature no earlier than at the age of 11-21 years, when her length exceeds 2 meters. Kaluga normally lives up to 48-55 years. It spawns in June on pebble-sand ridges in the Amur riverbed at a depth of 3 to 7 meters. Spawning is not annual, for males the interval is on average 4 years, for females - 5 years. The hatched larvae are carried downstream the river. Kaluga fry becomes predatory very early.

Significant decrease in kaluga population is caused mainly by poaching in Russian waters. Other problems are pollution of the Amur river and its tributaries by industrial and agricultural effluents and extraction of gravel from the kaluga spawning grounds.

Дата создания: 01.01.1970
Help the nature of Russia

#wwfrussia #KeySpecies

It's not just money that helps. Follow us on social media, discuss and share news and fund's activities with your friends.