Russia Wildlife Highlights

Given its tremendous size, it is no surprise that Russia hosts an incredible variety of ecosystems and associated wildlife. Temperate forests cover 70% of the country - making up a third of all temperate forest on Earth – but other habitats range from the steppe grasslands of the south to the frozen tundra and Arctic deserts of the far north. Bitterly cold winters and harsh conditions mean wildlife here is scarce, although reindeer, enduring temperatures as low as -50ºC, form herds numbering millions. Other wildlife found here include the Arctic fox, walrus and polar bear, which can be found breeding on the remote Wrangel Island in large numbers.  

The Russian Far East is particularly biodiverse, with carnivores including the Eurasian lynx, Siberian tiger and Amur leopard prowling the Siberian forests on the hunt for red deer and wild boar, while Asian black bears can occasionally be spotted lounging in the trees above. Spawning salmon thrive in the volcanic ash enriched waterways of the Kamchatka Peninsula, attracting predators such as sea otters, sea eagles and Kamchatka brown bears. 

Far East Russia is home to over one hundred endangered species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Wildlife of Siberia

The Siberian tiger, the largest of all the big cats, once roamed throughout eastern Russia, as well as the Korean peninsula and northern China. By the mid-twentieth century they were on the brink of extinction, with less than 40 individuals still remaining in small patches of forest in the Sikhote-Alin mountain range and Khabarovsk province of Siberia. Now fully protected under Russian law, populations of this majestic big cat have gradually recovered and there are now an estimated 500 tigers in the wild.

Due to the low density of their prey, Siberian tigers can cover vast areas in search of food, making them even more difficult to track. Conservationist and experienced tracker Alexander Batalov has spent years monitoring and protecting the tigers of the Durminskoye Reserve, and will help you to navigate their uncharted territories. By assisting Alexander in setting and retrieving camera traps you will be directly contributing to tiger conservation, while exploring one of the world’s wildest and most  challenging environments.

While undoubtedly the region’s most notorious resident, the Siberian tiger is by no means the only species of note found in this remote corner of Siberia.

Unlike their counterparts in Africa and the Indian subcontinent, the Amur leopard has perfectly adapted to life in the cool climates of the taiga. With just under 60 individuals remaining, the leopard is classified as critically endangered by the IUCN. Other mammals found here include Asian black bears, wolves, lynxes and raccoon dogs, while birdlife includes the Eurasian eagle-owl and Amur falcon, which migrates from Siberia every year to winter in the warmer climes of southern Africa.

Wildlife of Kamchatka

The largely uninhabited Kamchatka Peninsula is home to an abundance of wildlife. Boasting one of the highest populations of brown bear in the world, the Kamchatkan subspecies is second only to the famed Kodiak bears in terms of size. The bears go into hibernation during the cold winter months from November to March, but in July they can be observed in large numbers on the shores of the Kamchatka River, catching the salmon that swim upriver to spawn.  

100 miles off the eastern coast of the peninsula, the Commander Islands are renowned for their bird and marine life. Over a million seabirds are estimated to nest on the cliffs and beaches of this remote archipelago, including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes and auklets, while several marine mammals such as orca, sperm and humpback whales migrate to the cold waters of the northern Pacific to feed.

The Commander islands are also a haven for endangered sea otters, and played an important role in their conservation and recovery.

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