Two banks of one river: Russia and China. Problems of ecology

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Two banks of one river: Russia and China. Problems of ecology


The Amur river runs through 3 different regions: the Chitinskaya and Amurskaya Oblasts and the Khabarovskiy Krai. As one of the greatest rivers of this country the Amur is divided into 3 parts: the upper, the middle and the lower Amur. The total length of the Amur river is 27 hundred miles. The distance from Khabarovsk to the Pacific Ocean is 600 miles and it takes 44 hours to reach the estuary by ship. The Amur with its tributaries Shilka and Onon is the longest river in Russia.

In 1858 the Russian-Chinese Treaty on border was signed and then Trans-Amur Territories discovered and populated by Russians were annexed to Russia. Navigation on the Amur was opened the same year, 1858. The growth of population in the territory and construction of the Transsiberian Railroad resulted in the intensive development of the Amur fleet.

To date the two countries’ territories, those of Russia and China, have been separated by the Amur for the space of two thousand kilometers. So, Russians and Chinese are currently united not only by trade and friendship, but also by this great river, which used to be one of the least transformed by man rivers of our planet is now under the threat of an environmental disaster.

Due to the growth of various industries and to dumping of huge amounts of industrial wastes in the waters of this boundary river, the Amur becomes very much polluted and needs to be protected.

Two expeditions to the Amur middle reaches organized by the Institute of Aquatic and Ecological Problems under the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Amur-side Geographic Society in 1998 provided the researchers with an opportunity to make an assessment of the present-day state of the natural environment of the river and to identify problems of the biological and aquatic resources and vegetation conservation in a situation of intensive economic activities. The expeditions participants unanimously concluded that the Amur eco-system has approached a dangerous borderline and will deteriorate to such an extent that it will have to be reproduced and not protected. And that will be more costly and more complicated to do.

In June and July of 1998, when the Sungary river was in severe flood, the Aquatic and Ecological Problems Institute specialists reported various harmful agents getting into the Amur in gigantic quantities. Dirty and poisonous ribbons of foam, oil patches, all kinds of household wastes floated on the surface of the muddy yellow water. The chemical compounds, while being accumulated in the various aquatic organisms, turn into dangerous sources of water pollution and fish poisoning in the Amur.

On the Chinese bank of the river a sand is extracted on the foreland, the trees are cut down, the lands are ploughed up to the very riverside and fertilizers are applied in big amounts in the fields. The dikes (дамбы) that protect the river banks from washing out and the fields – from flooding, negatively and destructively affect the river. They sometimes stretch for dozens of kilometers along the Chinese bank. Interfering with the natural watercourse dikes contribute to more active washing out of the banks in the other sections and increase the watercourse instability. As a result, navigable paths shift from one arm of the river to the other, the rifts get shallow and new islands are formed in the river. All this not only makes the navigation difficult, but also impedes the development of the borderline relationship between the two countries. The problem of Russian-Chinese cooperation in ensuring ecological safety of one of the richest and the most beautiful rivers in the world is currently extremely important. In the new millennium the people’s welfare on both river banks is subject to what priority its solution will be given.


Answer the questions:


1. What is the total length of the Amur river?

2. What is the distance from Khabarovsk to the Pacific Ocean?

3. When was the Russian-Chinese Treaty on the Amur River borderline signed?

4. When was the navigation on the Amur opened?

5. For what length are Russia and China separated along the Amur river?

6. What expeditions to the Amur middle reaches were made in 1998?

7. What did happen to the river in June and July of 1998?

8. Why is the Amur river much polluted?

9. What problems harmful to the river ecology do occur on the Chinese bank?

10. What measures should be taken to ensure an ecological safety of the Amur river?


Amur tiger


In Russia, the tiger occurs in a small area of the extreme Far East of the country. It inhabits the coniferous and broadleaf forests of the Primorsky Krai and the Khabarovsky Krai, mainly on the eastern or right bank of the Ussury and Amur rivers. The northern most boundary of its distribution is located to the south of Khabarovsk City.

The subspecies of the Amur tiger (Latin: Panthera tigris altaica) is distribut­ed only in the extreme Far East of Russia. The Amur tiger differs from other tiger companion subspecies because of its large size and thick winter fur.

Our tigers possess great individual variability in size, especially males which may continue growing even after reaching adulthood. On average, the length of a full grown male can be up to 290 centimeters and their weight can be 260 kilograms or even more. One giant tiger has been recorded with the weight of 390 kilograms and the length of more than three meters. Female tigers are of lesser size, with an average length of 160 to 180 centi­meters and a weight of 140 to 160 kilograms.

Tiger's tracks are frequently seen along any road within coniferous-broadleaf forests in the Bekinsky, Vyazemsky, Lazo and Nanaysky regions of the Khabarovsky Krai. A small number of tigers inhabit nearer to the city of Khabarovsk in the Bolshekhektzirsky State Reserve Area.

Amur tigers can withstand very low temperatures comparatively easy. Thick winter fur and under-skin fat on the abdomen, which is up to lour to five centimeters thick, allows the animal to lie comfortably on the snow for long periods, when chasing its prey, the predator races swift, making leaps of three to four meters long, and leaping over obstacles of two to three meters high. A tiger can even turn in the air while leaping and change direction to follow its prey. When the tiger catches its prey, it grabs half of the body with its fore paws and usually kills it immediately by biting through the prey's neck vertebras. At this moment the tiger is highly excited and begins pulling the kill around for dozens of meters, apparently in order to calm down. Once the excitement has passed, the tiger will lie near the kill licking itself. Afterwards the big predator can pull its prey further on perhaps for a few hundred meters, even up to one kilometer, depending on the size of the kill. The tiger will only stop to make a feast under the cover of thick forest far from the eyes of crows.

Almost all big and middle size species of mammals become prey for tigers in the Khabarovsky Krai. The tiger is at the top of the food chain and can hunt wild boar, the deer species such as izuber, roe buck and musk deer-plus brown bears and Himalayan bears, badgers, raccoon dogs and hares. However, the preferred food, the real "passion" of tigers, is young and middle sized wild boar.

Tigers become mature and ready to breed at the age of three to four years old. The breeding season usually occurs during January and February. One male may visit two or three females. During this "wedding season", males often have ferocious fights between themselves which sometimes end in the death of one of the rivals.

The total current population of Amur tigers within the Khabarovsky Krai is 65 to 70 animals, half of them are grown-up or semi-adults. Around 400 animals can be met in the Primorsky Krai and there maybe a few more on the border with Korea.

Far Eastern leopard



The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis Schlegel) is a rare, threatened subspecies. Its natural hab­itat covering Northeast China, Korean Peninsula, and the southern part of the Primorsky Krai, Russia, by now has shrunk to a dangerously small area. There are only a few leopards (not more than two dozen) left in China, while in Korea they allegedly disappeared altogether. They can still be found only in the south­western part of the Primorsky Krai, Russia. According to the survey of the leopard populations recently conducted by wildlife biologists V. Korkisliko and D. Pikunov there, are still 25 to 30 leopards left in the Primorsky Krai, Russia, with some of them having their habitats extending into the Chinese terri­tory. In the early 20th century, the leopard was frequently spotted by local people on the spurs of the Sikhote Alin mountain complex and to the southwest of Lake Khanka, but with the passage of years wildlife biologists failed to spot the leopard there.

The harsh winters and depletion of game were, the most significant factors that had dwindled the роpulations of the Amur leopard in the past and during past several decades the expansion of economic activity of man has displaced the leopard from its traditional habitat and has driven it to the brink of extinction…

There has not been put a stop to poaching not only of leopard's prey, such as roe and Japanese deer, raccoon dogs, badgers, and hares, but the leop­ard itself As concerns hunting the Amur leopard, it is not a very difficult task: virtually any pack of hounds are able to make not only a young leopard, but an adult one as well climb a tree; hunger drives it to try any meat bait and as a result it can easily fall into a trap. And that is what poachers make use of.

The only wildlife sanctuary where the Amur leopard can breed is Cedar Creek Valley located in the south­ern part of the Primorsky Krai, Russia. But even this sanctuary has become so small (about 18,000 ha) that it can no longer play a critical role in the conser­vation of this graceful big cat.

Outside the wildlife sanctuary Cedar Creek Valley the only refuge for the leopard in the Primorsky Krai, Russia, remains a small area of about 200 kilometers between the Razdolnaya River and the Posyet Gulf. There the leopard keeps to a diminishing pris­tine, mountainous belt of coniferous-broadleaved and hardwood forests along the border with China, pri­marily on the Borisovsky Plateau. Hillsides and pla­teaus facing the rivers have numerous cliffs with con­venient recesses and caves that are indispensable for leopards as shelter in bad weather as well as for breed­ing.

The area is teeming with roe deer and is rather far from human settlements; in the forest belt along the Chinese border one can find large herds of Japanese deer. These ungulates are the principal prey for the leopard thanks to whom it can survive the harsh win­ters. Of great help for the leopard are Manchurian hares, raccoon dogs, badgers, and some other game living in that area.

The leopard is perhaps the most beautiful, graceful, strong, and daring of all the big cats and at the same time it is a very cunning predator. Its tawny yellow fur decorated with dark spots clustered together in rosette shapes helps conceal the animal in its natural surroundings, be it a taiga forest, grass­land, or a glade covered with yellowed leaves. The leopard has strong eyes, acute hearing, and a fine of smell. Unhurried when content, it can bound with great speed, is a good climber, and is unbelievably strong: carcasses of prey weighing from 35 to 68 kilograms have been found in tress 4 to 6 meters above ground where a leopard had carried them. As compared with the tiger, it is not very big: a fe­male may weigh about 50 kilograms; a male: up to 70 kilograms. It feeds upon any animals it can overpow­er, but generally preys on the smaller and medium-sized ungulates.



Brown bear is one of the most widespread, well-known and popular animals in Russia. Generally considered the national symbol, it was almost unanimously voted a mascot of 1980 Moscow Olympics. Big and peaceful bear is a favorite character of fairy tales and cartoons. Few people realize that it is the very same species as the much-feared grizzly bear of North America. Although on average bears kill ten people per year in Russia (much more in the years of poor pine nuts crop in Siberia), it is not unusual to see tourists routinely using bear trails, or village girls gathering berries almost side by side with brown bears. If such an idyllic scene happened in America, the bear would almost certainly be shot, and the girls would have to endure a three hour-long safety talk by park rangers.

Unfortunately, this almost-peaceful coexistence of bears and people, quite common in remote areas of Russia only two decades ago, is now rapidly becoming a fairy tale itself. Poaching for bale, fat and skins has severely depleted bear populations in all more or less accessible parts of the country

It is believed that Ursus arctos colonized America from Asia. Not surprisingly, brown bears of the Old World show much higher diversity in appearance and behavior than their descendants in the USA and Canada. It is possible that this species is undergoing further speciation before our very eyes.

Unlike in North America, where brown bears seem to prefer open landscapes (grasslands, Alpine meadows and tundra), in Eurasia they inhabit mostly dense forests, although they were probably more widespread in grasslands and even deserts in the past. One possible reason for this difference is that the particular population that invaded America thousands of years ago was tundra-adapted. In fact, the Chukchi Peninsula on the Asian side of the Bering Strait is the only place in Asia where brown bears live year-round in lowland tundra. Another possible explanation is that in America, dense forests are occupied by American black bear (U. americaniis). Its Asian counterpart, the Himalayan bear (U. tibetanus), is limited in its distribution to hardwood forests of Eastern Asia and to mountains of the northern part of Indian Subcontinent. If the two species do coexist (such as in the Ussuriland, the southernmost part of the Russian Far East), brown bear seems to prefer high-elevation coniferous forests and Alpine areas.

The most widespread form of brown bear in Eurasia is "common" brown bear, U. a. arctos. It once occurred from Britain to Transbaikalia, and from Northern Scandinavia to the grasslands of Southern Ukraine and Northern Kazakhstan. Now only a few relict populations survive in Southern and Central Europe, and in the grasslands there are no bears at all. Bears are also gone from hardwood forests around Moscow and other major cities, but they are still present throughout the boreal forest zone from Norway to Yakutia.

Within this huge area, they look more or less the same, although east from the Urals one will find a higher percentage of light- or reddish-colored bears. Research has shown that bears of the Alps and other European mountains are genetically distinct from those of taiga forests. There are also differences in their behavior, probably caused by varying levels of hunting pressure. In Europe (including European Russia, where bears were almost wiped out by trophy hunters prior to the 1917 revolution), they are typically strictly nocturnal, and seldom attack people or livestock.

In many areas of Western, Southern, and Central Siberia, as well as in Northern Mongolia, bears depend heavily on Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica), known locally as "cedar". If its mast fails, starving bears start killing livestock, attacking people, and often do not hibernate - they wander around in deep snow until they starve to death or manage to kill a cow or a moose. Such shatun (wanderer) bears are responsible for most bear-caused human fatalities in Russia.

It is believed that bears of Transbaikalia (sometimes known as "anteater bears" for their heavy use of Formica rufa ants for food) are more aggressive towards people than those of other parts of Siberia. One possible reason is that in Eastern Siberia, winters are very dry, with little snow cover, so bears are forced to "wake up early in spring, and have to hunt to survive until May, when young vegetation appears.. There were documented cases of Transbaikalian bears becoming "professional" man-eaters, with two animals killing more than 12 people each.

Bears known as U. a. ognevi, that live east from the Kolyma River, are generally small, light-colored and relatively non-aggressive. They feed mostly on berries, because the only tree in the area is Dahurian larch (Larix gmelini). They tend to live above the timberline (which is less than 500 m above sea level in the area), or in Arctic tundra further North.

Giant bears (U. a. piscivorus) of the Kamchatka Peninsula and Paramushir Island are very similar to Kodiak bears of Alaska, but tend to be darker. They also depend heavily on salmon, and are considered non-aggressive, although some unprovoked attacks do happen. They have interesting behavioral patterns - some of them even learn to kill sea otters on rocky shallows. Kamchatka used to have almost as many bears as all of Siberia, but recent plague of Japanese, American and European trophy hunters, as well as local poachers, has brought their numbers to one-fifth of what they used to be.

On the Koryak Highlands, north from Kamchatka, these bears interbreed with small ognevi subspecies, but it looks like both prefer to breed with their own.



Another subspecies, U. a. manchuricus, inhabits the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, Amur Basin, Sakhalin Island and Ussuriland. It once occurred in North Korea and Northeastern China, but is now almost extinct there. These animals are large (some were documented killing tigers), and utilize a great variety of food, from salmon to wild grapes. Interestingly, local hunters believe that there are three species of bears in the area: brown bear, Himalayan bear (locally called "white-breast" for characteristic V-shaped mark on its chest), and black bear, which is said to be the largest and most carnivorous of all three. The analysis of bear attacks on people and observed cases of bear predation on livestock and wild ungulates seems to confirm that all meat-eating individuals are large and dark-colored, and almost all of them are males. It is possible that this population is evolving towards separating into two species. But it is also possible that these bears are a mix-up of two races, one originating from Siberia or Central China and another - from Japan.

Brown bears U. a. yesoensis of Hokkaido and the two southernmost Kuril Islands are said to be extremely dangerous. On a 100 mile-long Kunashir Island, where a few hundred people coexist with two hundred bears, bear attacks happen almost annually. These bears have unusually narrow skull and almost always show a reddish collar or spots around the neck.

Answer the questions:


1. Animals of what climatic zones live in the Russian Far East?

2. Can you name the representatives of arctic fauna?

3. What endemic animals do you know?

4. Is the Far Eastern fauna rich in fur-bearing animals?

5. What sea animals live in the Pacific Ocean?

6. What are the subspecies of the bear?

7. Can you name any endangered animals and birds?

8. What hoofed animals live in the Russian Far East?

9. Are there many predator species and birds of prey in the Far East?

10. What do you know about the wild world protection?

11. Make a report about: any far eastern animal, or nature protection in RFE.

Kunst and Alberts


Vladivostok, 1864. The two courageous young Germans Gustav Kunst and Gustav Alberts ventured to start their own business at the end of the Far East of Russia. The risk was high. To address the local situation, the entrepreneurs organized general trade. The local people were happy to buy everything they needed in one store: shoe polish, combs, plates, textiles, kerosene, soap. It was decided to deliver goods via Chinese ports. The company chartered vessels to ship goods to Vladivostok and exported seaweeds that the Chinese got on the coast. In the early 80-s regular voyages of the Voluntary Fleet vessels to Vladivostok were started. That allowed to open procurement offices in Europe: Odessa, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, Hamburg, Munich, and later in the Asian market, the first in Kobe, Japan. With the establishment of the General-Governorship with a capital in Khabarovsk, the settlements and military posts were strengthened and new ones came into being. Very soon stores and business firms of “Kunst and Alberts” sprang in lots of them – in 1893-in Nikolaevsk, in 1894-in Alexandrovsk (Sakhalin), in 1895-in Khabarovsk and Blagoveschensk, in 1900-in Harbin, in 1913-in Obluchye. In 1902 the company invited G.R. Yunghendel, an experienced architect from Germany to design and construct buildings. All the magnificent buildings of the business firms, designed in the style of German baroque, were notable for their monumental design, refinement, and an attractive façade. The buildings, which are more than 100 years old, are still in use. There are legends about some of them, for e.g., the Mall (GUM) in Vladivostok, which used to be the head business firm of the “Kunst and Alberts” company. Some people believe that was the first supermarket in the world’s history. All building materials needed for its construction were brought in from Hamburg. There are wonderful stories about the business firm in Khabarovsk (the central grocer’s store). They tell us about the underground tunnels with rail tracks leading down to the lower bazaar, the deep basement-freezers. The partners believed that a business success depended on the working conditions and everyday life of the company’s employees. Single employees were provided with board and lodging. The benefit society established to address emergency situations, was of great help. A library, a bowling alley, a billiard-hall, a hospital – all this ensured adequate recreation. Boys working in the stores could attend evening courses, and in the summer they were sent to gymnastics classes organized by a local sports society.

In 1880 the businessmen decided to come back to Germany. The company was managed by Adolf Datten, later in 1886 he joined the firm as the equal partner. In 1896 Gustav Kunst went out of business. In 1910 Gustav Alberts made his business over to his son Alfred Alberts. In 1913 proved to be triumphant year for the company. At the exhibition devoted to the 300 anniversary of the Romanov dynasty it built an exceptionally beautiful pavilion. Emperor Nikolay II rewarded A. Dattan with the Prussian Order of the Crown of the Sixth Degree for his contribution to the active development of trade in the Priamurskiy General-Governorship. The fateful 1914 began. A strict supervision was introduced over all German companies. Business competition had been always strong and some competitors wrote false papers to put the blame on the rival company. What really happened is not quite clear now, but the “Kunst and Alberts” activities were banned and the company’s managers were arrested. After a lot of investigations the company was allowed to resume its operations. During the Civil War it successfully fulfilled orders placed by the military department. On coming back from the exile, A. Dattan left Russia for Germany. The company and its branches were put in charge of the resident managers. In 1925 the company was deprived of its property, and it had to rent its own buildings from the municipal authorities. Five years later it had to stop its activities. A few decades passed, and in 1950-s the “Kunst and Alberts” firm was exculpated and the espionage charge was removed.






1. What month was the Khabarovsky Krai organized in?

a) August, 1945

b) November, 1917

c) October, 1938

d) February, 1922


2. What strait separate the Khabarovsky Krai from Sakhalin Island?

a) Tatar

b) Bering

c) Nevelskoy

d) Laperuzo

3. What rivers are the tributaries of the Amur?

a) The Argun

b) The Amgun

c) The Aldan

d) The Tumnin


4. The southern foreign neighbour of the Khabarovsky Krai is … .

a) North Korea

b) Japan

c) China

d) Mongolia


5. The oldest settlement of the Khabarovsky Krai is … .

a) Nikolaevsk

b) Okhotsk

c) Ayan

d) Khabarovsk


6. What city is famous for producing submarines?

a) Khabarovsk

a) Amursk

b) Komsomolsk-on-Amur

c) Nikolaevsk


7. What's the length of the Amur?

a) 4400 km

b) 3531 km

c) 4444 km

d) 4092 km


8. What climatic zone does the Khabarovsky Krai belong to?

a) Monsoon

a) Continental

b) Sharply continental


9. What time zone does the Khabarovsky Krai lie in?

a) The local time is +12 hours fast of the Greenwich Mean Time

a) The local time is +11 hours fast of the Greenwich Mean Time

b) The local time is +10 hours fast of the Greenwich Mean Time

c) The local time is +9 hours fast of the Greenwich Mean Time


10. Khabarovsk has Russia’s third largest … .

a) River port

a) Railway station

b) Airport


11. Most of the Khabarovsk Krai area is characterized as … .

a) Plateaus

b) Lowlands

c) River valleys

d) Mountainous


12. The sea port Sovgavan was earlier called … .

a) Imperatorskay gavan

b) Communistic gavan

c) Japanese gavan

d) Nevelskoy gavan


13. The largest port of the Khabarovsky Krai is … .

a) De Kastri

b) Vanino

c) Okhotsk

d) Nikolaevsk


14. The river Amur was discovered by … .

a) Nevelskoy

b) Muravyov

c) Khabarov

d) Poyrkov


15. The number fish species in Amur is more than … .

a) 100

b) 80

c) 140

d) 50


16. The Khabarovsky krai takes 3 place in … .

a) fishing

b) gold-mining

c) coal-mining

d) oil-processing




            14       5            
      1     2     3              




1. The name of the ocean the R.F.E. is washed by.

2. The country the R.F.E. borders on.

3. Valuable fish-eating sea animal, found in cold regions.

4. One of the rivers of the R.F.E.

5. Town of the Khabarovsky Krai.

6. One of the rivers of the Khabarovsky Krai.

7. Amphibious rodent quadruped.


1. Territory included in the R.F.E.

8. Large carnivorous animal with spotted coat.

9. Valuable tree with hard, tough wood.

10. Mineral resource.

11. Wild beast allied to the dog.

12. Large carnivorous animal with striped coat.

13. One of the ethnic groups.

14. Lake.

15. Large seal – like sea animal with long tuskes.

        3                   4                    
              5   6     5     10           13      
        1                                     14  
    2                     9                      
1         4     10                                



1. A low-growing plant, smaller than a tree.

2. Product that is bought and sold.

3. The making of goods on a large scale.

4. Wood cut and made suitable for building.

5. The degree of heat or cold.

6. The average conditions of the weather in a place.

7. The work of getting minerals.

8. The wide mouth of a river into which the tide flows.

9. An advantage, an improvement.

10. A place from which activities are controlled and from which orders are sent out.

11. Black mineral which burns and supplies heat.

12. A group of the same kind.

13. A capital of the Far Eastern Federal Okrug.

14. All the animals found in a certain area or period.




1. An area of land, a region.

2. A tree with cones.

3. The degree of moisture.

4. All the wealth of a country and all its means of defense.

5. One of the biggest oblast in Russia where the fish industry is the most developed.

6. A group of families living as community under one or more chiefs.

7. All the plants of a particular region.

8. The total number of inhabitants of any town or country.

9. The land near the line that separates one country or state from another.

10. A brilliant precious stone.

11. A sort, a kind.

12. The power or right to give orders.



Предисловие 3



Text Flora and fauna of the Russian Far East 5

Text Mineral resources. Population 6




Text 1. General Economic Profile of the Russian Far East 21


Text 2. Extra information on the economy of the Russian Far East 23

Resource Potential 23

Agriculture 23

Industry 24

Construction 27

Transport 27

Foreign Relationships of the Russian Far East 28

Text 3. The Economy of the Khabarovsky Krai 29

Text 4. The Rusian Far East economy through the figures 34



Text When did the pioneers first appear in the Far East? 39

Text What geographical discoveries were made as the pioneers went

on their travels? 40

Text Who was Bering after whom a sea, a strait and an island were

Named? 40

Text From the history of the Far East 41

Text The history of the origin of the Far Eastern Minority Tribes 43

Text Mighty Amur 44

Text Two banks of one river: Russia and China. Problems of ecology 45

Text Amur tiger 47

Text Far Eastern leopard 48

Text Bears 50

Text Kunst and Alberts 53


Test 54

Crossword I 57

Crossword II 58

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