Amur-Heilong River Basin

Straddling the border between northeastern China and the Russian Far East, the Amur-Heilong region contains one the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world, and is a key habitat for the critically endangered Amur leopard and tiger. WWF is working to ensure that these species and many others are protected in this vast yet fragile environment.
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Amur floodplain, Russian Far East.
© Hartmut JUNGIUS / WWF-Canon

A river runs through it

The Amur River is one of the longest rivers in Asia, flowing thousands of kilometres from the steppes of Mongolia through the untamed wilderness of China and Russia and ending at the Strait of Tartary where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.
Surrounding the river, the Amur-Heilong ecoregion covers vast areas of grasslands and forests, including some of the best-preserved temperate forests in the world.

These old-growth forests are home to tigers, leopards, brown bears, musk deer and many other species. Rich plant species include wild ginseng, long treasured for its medicinal uses.

Land of the leopard, traces of tiger

Amur leopard (<i>Panthera pardus orientalis</i>). / ©: WWF Russia / Vasilii Solkin
Amur leopard.
© WWF Russia / Vasilii Solkin
With fewer than 35 left in the wild, the reclusive Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), also known as the Far East leopard, is considered one of the world’s most endangered big cats. Found mostly in the forests of Russia’s southwestern Primorskii Province, WWF is working to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.

The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian tiger, is another cat species under threat. Although their numbers have increased from about 40 to 500 – thanks to vigorous conservation efforts – poaching and increased logging continue to affect their chances of survival.
Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) / ©: WWF-Canon / KLEIN & HUBERT
Amur tiger.
© WWF-Canon / KLEIN & HUBERT

Conservation results

It's not just the leopard and tiger under threat.
Habitat loss, logging, pollution and trade in other endangered wildlife all threaten the health of the entire Amur-Heilong area.

WWF is working with partners in Russia, China and Mongolia to achieve lasting conservation throughout the region. This includes programmes to reduce poaching, curb unsustainable and illegal logging, and protect key species through the creation of protected areas.

Major successes include:





Reversing the trend toward extinction is difficult but not impossible. We helped bring the tiger back from the brink and now it's the leopard's turn.

Darron Collins, Amur-Heilong Programme Managing Director, WWF-US

 / ©: V.Solkin / WWF Russia
The Amur tiger and leopard and many other species depend on the health of the Amur-Heilong forests.
© V.Solkin / WWF Russia
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Location of the Amur-Heilong priority place
© WWF

Key Contacts

  • Olga Sass

    Information center assistant

    WWF Russia,
    Amur Branch

    +7 4232 414868

  • Eugene Simonov

    Program Coordinator

    WWF Russia,
    Amur Branch

Facts & Figures

    • Running almost 4,500km, the Amur is the 9th longest river the world.
    • European world maps use the name "Amur", whereas China uses the name "Heilongjiang", or “Black Dragon River”, for the same river.
    • The river forms the border between China and Russia for over 3,000 km.
    • Surrounding the Amur River is a watershed of over 1,500,000km2, an area about 3 times the size of Spain.
    • The river basin has 15 Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, 12 Man and Biosphere Reserves and the Sikhote-Alin World Heritage Site.
    • Rivers and lakes in the Amur-Heilong river basin provide habitats for about 130 freshwater fish species, including 7 species of migratory salmon and kaluga, the world's largest sturgeon.
    • The Amur tiger, the largest of the tiger subspecies, may weigh more than 250kg and measure nearly 3m from nose to tip of the tail.
    • The Amur leopard has been reported to leap more than 6m horizontally and more than 3m vertically.
    • The headwaters of the Amur River are born near the sacred mountain of Burkan Khaldun in northeastern Mongolia, the birthplace of Genghis Khan.

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