Almost forty years after the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident, the area is starting to show signs of life. Wild animals in Chernobyl live in a polluted area, somehow keeping up with nature. Once considered uninhabitable, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone has become a haven for animals and plants, proving that life has somehow found its way. Let’s analyze the details together👇
1. The Chernobyl animals survived against all odds
On April 26, 1986, the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded due to faulty design and inadequately trained workers. While the disaster ravaged the environment, it turned out that the total amount of radiation was many times greater than hundreds of atomic bombs.
In the city of Pripyat, radiation from the disaster caused the leaves of thousands of trees to rust and gave the forest a new name: Red Forest. The workers eventually destroyed the radioactive trees. In addition, Soviet soldiers were ordered to shoot stray animals in the 1,000-square-mile Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Today, many species of animals and plants survive, although experts believe that some parts of the region will remain dangerous to humans for another 20,000 years.
2. The absence of humans has made Chernobyl a new home for wildlife
The Chernobyl disaster reveals a world without people. Hunting in this area is completely illegal, people are not allowed to live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Therefore, nature has established its own habitat, independent of human activity. Few animal species live better in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone than outside.
3. Bears and wolves outnumber humans in Chernobyl
According to biologist Jim Beasley, the population of large mammals in the area greatly exceeded pre-disaster numbers. Bears, wolves, lynxes, bison, deer, beavers, foxes, badgers, wild boars and raccoon dogs are just some of the species that live in radioactive Chernobyl. In addition to large animals, various amphibians, fish, worms and bacteria have also settled in no man’s land.
4. The population of the endangered wild horse breed is beginning to increase
The Smithsonian’s National Institute of Zoo and Conservation Biology called Przewalski’s or Mongolian horse “the last true wild horse.” Horses that once roamed large areas of Asia and Europe are almost extinct. But British environmentalists studying the effects of radiation on Chernobyl wildlife noticed that the number of Przewalski’s horses increased in Chernobyl. In the late 1990s, about 30 Przewalski horses were released on the Ukrainian side of the irradiated area, and today the population has grown to over 200.
5. Radiation may have killed the Chernobyl bugs
Unlike animals and plants, the number of insects and spiders in Chernobyl has been significantly reduced. A 2009 study in Biology Letters found that insects were negatively affected in some areas around the Chernobyl disaster area.
A similar situation occurred after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. While the population of birds, cicadas and butterflies in Fukushima has decreased, other animals have not been affected.
6. Chernobyl animals are considered mutants
Scientists have noticed significant genetic changes in the organisms affected by the disaster. According to a 2011 study by Biological Conservation, genetic mutations increased 20-fold in plants and animals living in Chernobyl. More research is needed to understand how increased mutations affect species’ reproductive rates, population size, genetic diversity, and other survival factors.
7. Mutation is not what you think
There are no two-headed bears or four-eyed fish like in the movies around here. The mutation of Chernobyl animals very rarely causes some to grow faster.
Cesium-137, one of the region’s radioactive isotopes, has a lifespan of more than 30 years. This isotope is deposited on some vegetables that animals eat, affecting others disproportionately. For example, it turned out that voles that ate radioactive mushrooms were less fertile, resulting in a reduction in population.
8. Swallows have albinism
Swallows in the area were found to exhibit partial albinism, possibly as a result of radiation-induced genetic mutations. In areas with high levels of radiation, populations of birds with smaller brains and lower sperm counts increased.
9. Dogs from Chernobyl were adopted
The descendants of the dogs abandoned by their owners during the evacuation of the city on April 27, 1986 have been living in an uninhabited area for years. Now an organization called the Clean Future Fund is helping to run the Chernobyl sterilization campaign. They also provide medical care, vaccinations and even food to the Chernobyl puppies.
In 2018 and 2019, the radiation levels of several dogs were revealed to be safe for humans and these dogs were adopted.
10. People live in restricted areas
Some Chernobyl dogs were adopted by people living in restricted areas. In some villages near the city, also known as the exclusion zone, large numbers of people live with the tacit consent of the authorities. These residents are mostly women and the elderly who lived in the area before the disaster.
We have reached the end of our article. We wish you a nice day.
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