Primorye Week: Sable (Martes zibellina)
Welcome back to Primorye, an ecologically diverse region in the far east of Russia that we’re visiting this week. (Read Monday’s musk deer post for more about the area.) Today’s mammal is the sable, he of the beautiful coat, prized by rich ladies the world over. Sables are carnivores, related to weasels, skunks, ferrets, and so on, and they live in Finland, China, Japan, North Korea, Mongolia, and Poland, in addition to Russia.
According to a New York Times article called “Behind the $100,000 Sable Coat, a Siberian Hunter,” from 2000, during the Soviet era, most sable fur came from farms, but post USSR, the fur-farming system has given way to hunters, and now (or rather, in 2000), most fur for fur coats comes from wild sables. That article begins, “Wearing a hat made from pelts of hunting dogs that had disappointed him…” Another article, this one from the Japan Times, is headlined “Cuteness belies killers’ true nature,” but the sable is not enough of a killer to make a match for a man with a gun.