A Fuller Vision of Russia’s Far East
In 1995, when Jonathan Slaght was nineteen years old, he travelled with his father, a U.S. diplomat based in Moscow, to the Russian Far East. As their plane approached the port city of Vladivostok, Slaght looked out the window and saw what appeared to be an endless sea of trees. “It seemed like there was no human hand anywhere, just rolling hills of green,” he told me recently. “I was mesmerized.” It was Slaght’s first glimpse of Primorsky Kray, a thinly populated province that lies on Russia’s border with China and North Korea, just across the sea from Japan. Because the region escaped glaciation during the last Ice Age, it was and is a place of wonders, preserving a unique assemblage of high-latitude and subtropical species. It is the only place on Earth where brown bears, leopards, and tigers coexist.