As Novye Izvestia already reported about a month ago, the Primorye authorities are planning to begin gold mining in the southern part of the Khabarovsk Territory, where one of the last full-fledged Amur tiger groups in the region is concentrated.
It is no secret that the population of these unique animals is declining every year, and in connection with recent events, they are threatened with complete destruction. The fact is that despite media reports and disturbing posts on social networks, the Primorye authorities are not going to abandon their plans. Moreover, they in every possible way appease local residents so that they do not decide to protest. The activist Sergey Kolchin writes about this:
“Pacific Mining LLC, which intends to develop a gold and silver deposit in the center of the territory occupied by the tiger group (total license area is 11 sq. Km), on April 27, 2020 applied to a number of specialized organizations with a proposal to conduct (at the expense of the customer)" independent comprehensive scientific research (examination) of the impact of exploration on the Amur tiger population ”with the prospect of assessing threats to a rare predator from the development of the field itself. Three days later, on April 30, by order of the Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Pacific Mining, on the basis of a license for the right to use subsoil, it was allowed to begin exploration. According to the staff of the Durminskoye forest hunting enterprise, in whose territory the field is located, on May 18, Pacific Mining delivered a shift (about 15 people) and special equipment (tractor, drilling rig, etc.) to start work.
In the southern part of the Khabarovsk Territory, in the basins of the upper reaches of the Durmin, Obor, Kiya and the middle reaches of the Khor River, one of the last full-fledged tiger groups in the region is concentrated - and the only one that lives outside the boundaries of protected areas. The Khorsky model site is located here - one of 16 model sites where annual tiger population monitoring is carried out. Several tenants of hunting and forest resources operate on this territory. Nevertheless, to date, the Khorsky site has maintained a fairly high density of the tiger population: according to monitoring data of the last five years, up to 22 individuals of different age categories have been recorded here at a time (13-15 on average), of which at least 10 are adult animals involved in breeding. The key territory for this group of predators is the basin of the upper reaches of the Durmin River, where the Durminskoye hunting forest is located. Due to the inaccessibility and protection of this site, the preserved massifs of fruit-bearing oak, a high number of ungulates is maintained here with a minimum level of poaching, and therefore local lands become a regular habitat of 5-6 adult tigers and are periodically visited by other individuals. In Durmin and the surrounding area, at least 11 cubs have been born over the past three years. The significance of this predator group for the conservation of the species at the northern boundary of the range is exclusive.
But the prospect for the continued existence of tigers at the Khorsky model site raises serious concerns. In the upper reaches of the Durmin River, near the watershed with the Obor, Kiya and Khor rivers, there is a deposit of ore gold and silver. As it became known at the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Khabarovsk Territory, Pacific Mining LLC obtained a license to deploy work in this place. Earlier, in 2014, the same license was issued to East Mining Company LLC, which was forced to curtail its plans due to the refusal of domestic investors to finance the work.
During the development of the deposit, it is planned to build the following facilities: a quarry, a gold recovery factory with a tailing dump, an industrial site, a warehouse for explosive materials, a testing ground for the destruction and explosive materials, a shift camp, a landfill for solid household waste, roads, power lines.
The implementation of this event will cause irreparable damage to the entire natural complex of the specified territory and, first of all, will jeopardize the possibility of tigers living here. In the area of the projected works, the most important natural routes of tiger movements between the basins of neighboring rivers lie, which largely ensures the unity of the group of predators. Thanks to the preserved forest areas with cedar and oak, the protective qualities of the habitats are high, including places for arranging brood shelters and raising cubs. In this place, a high number of the main objects of predator hunting remains - wild boar, red deer, roe deer and badger.
Blasting during the development of the quarry, complete deforestation, construction of gold mining facilities, environmental pollution with industrial and household waste, laying a year-round road will reduce the number of tigers and their victims, worsen the quality of habitats, create a high anthropogenic disturbance factor and increase the availability of land for poachers. The implementation of this project will contribute to the emerging fragmentation of the tiger range and, as a result, will cause irreparable damage to the entire population of the Amur subspecies, which has been preserved exclusively in our country.
Specially protected natural territories existing in the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory cannot ensure the conservation of the tiger population, since their areas are insufficient to maintain viable groups of this predator in the long term. The possibility of natural contacts between local groups is extremely important. The disappearance of the “choir” predator group, which ensures reproduction and natural flow of migratory tigers in the northern, southern, eastern and even western (the next population of the tigers ’Khekhtsir ridge family!) Directions, will not only lead to a general reduction in the number of tigers, but will also become a serious threat preservation of the northernmost foci of the species population.
UPD: According to local residents, the head of the administration of the village. Durmin is currently distributing grocery sets (stew jar, saury jar, groats) to large families and grandmothers with a piece of paper on a bag with a picture of the forest and mountains and the inscription “Pacific Mining”. And he convinces everyone how good it will be to live if gold miners start working on Durmin...”