воскресенье, 21 марта 2010 г.

The Amur

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The Amur is one of the largest rivers of North-Eastern Asia, which was formed by the confluence of the rivers Shilka and Argun. For 2824 kilometers this truly powerful river with its tributaries: Zeya, Bureya, Ussuri, Sungari carries its waters all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Amur weaves its way across the territory of three states – Russia, China and Mongolia. The Chinese call it “River of the Black Dragon”, the Mongols – “Black water”.

Амурские закаты
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Russians started reclaiming the territories of the Amur river basin in the first half of the 17th century. The largest town of the Far East – Khabarovsk – was named after one of the trailblazers, Yerofei Khabarov.

The nature of the Amur river basin is very contrasting. Siberian landscapes alternate with maritime ones. Siberia asserts its presence with bitter frosts, permafrost, and the larch tree that dominates the northern woods. The maritime landscape is noted for summer showers, turbulent rivers, Korean cedar, Amur grapes, Amur cork tree, Manchurian hazel and Chinese magnolia vine. The flora and fauna of the Amur river basin is remarkably diverse, with over 130 species of freshwater fish, among which the largest sturgeon in the world, the kaluga, is endemic to the Amur. Individual specimens of this fish weigh over a ton.

Там, где Амур
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Branching out into several distributaries, the Amur forms a multitude of flood-plain lakes which attract fish-eating birds and waterfowl. Among them – red-throated and black-throated loons, the brant, seagull, great cormorant and others. For ability to swallow large fish whole, the great cormorant is dubbed “big live fishrod”. In China these birds are still used for fishing.

One of the most beautiful ducks inhabiting the Amur region is the mandarin duck. Back at the outset of the 20th century this species was widespread all along the Amur river. However, as lands were reclaimed and tall-trunk trees and oak groves were shopped down, the species dwindled in number. The fact is, the mandarin duck makes its nest in tree hollows at a height of 15-20 meters, and feeds on acorns. Presently, the species has been entered in the Red Book of Endangered Species.

One could speak at length of the fauna of the Amur river area. This is a place one can encounter a great many rare animals, who are in the Red Book of Endangered Species, such as the Amur tiger — the largest of all the felines, the Far East soft-shelled turtle – a reptile boasting ancient heritage. The species has remained unchanged since the Mesozoic era.

Then there is also the raccoon dog, an omnivorous animal of the dog family, a clumsy beast with thick fur, which is noted for its complete defenselessness in the face of danger: instead of running away, the raccoon dog hunkers down and feigns death, thus becoming easy prey for predators and forest fires. “Neatnik” is how they call the badger – an awkward-moving predator with pointed muzzle and rough thick coat, who is noted for remarkable orderliness. In autumn the badger, having amassed body fat, goes into hibernation. Presently, the badger is hunted for meat and curative fat, which is used as a remedy for cold-related diseases and tuberculosis.

Around 2 ,000 plant species grow in the Amur river area. The Komarov lotus is called a natural wonder – the Amur region the northernmost place in the world where this water-lily is found.

Alas, the unique Nature of the Amur, unpartitioned by dams in its main channel, is presently endangered. The Amur basin plains are heavily populated. On the territory of China, some 100 million people live along the rivers Sungari and Ussuri.

The Amur is a boundary river. On the left, northern bank – the Russian population is very inconsiderable, while on its right bank the Chinese population is very dense. There are a great number of plants that pollute the waters of the Amur river basin,” says Victor Danilov-Danilyan, Director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Man’s impact on the eco-system of the river increases with every year, which has already resulted in a decline in water-marshy territories, the habitat of rare bird species, and stocks of fish resources. Construction of the hydroelectric stations on the rivers Zeya and Bureya, as well as several large dams on the river Sungari in China have upset the hydrological regime of the Amur. So the problems of the Amur need to be addressed jointly in the nearest future.

Source:The Voice of Russia

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I work at a big museum in France and would really like to talk to you about your photo of the Amur river, which we would like to use. How can we get in contact?