The radioactive load remains high in Chernobyl, but in spite of that rare animals returning to the disaster zone

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe took place 30 years ago but despite the strong radioactive contamination rare animals like bears, wolves, lynx and moose have been returning to the area three decades after the tragedy.

Up to date, Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe was the world's worst ever nuclear disaster, which took place on April 26, 1986.

Two explosions demolished Chernobyl nuclear power plant's fourth reactor; as a result, 130 thousand people had to be evacuated from their homes in a thirty kilometers radius around the disaster site.

The disaster seriously affected nature as well; ten square kilometers of pine forest died out, several species of birds, rodents and insects are completely disappeared from the area. However, despite the continued strong radioactive contamination, the diversity of animal life continues to grow. "When people left, nature has returned," said Biologist Denis Visnevskij who works around the damaged reactor site in the closed area. Radioactivity persists and its negative effects still can be felt. Live animals produce fewer offspring and die earlier. "However, these negative effects are not as significant as the fact that people no longer intervene in the natural environment," says the researcher.

The closed area is controlled by the military; officially, no one can live there. Nonetheless, three hundred, mostly elderly residents returned to their homes. Nature, however, does not seem to be bothered by these few people. A new, and healthier forest has grown at the devastated site, and a number of rare animals, like lynx returned to the area. Only those species have disappeared completely, which mainly fed on garbage and cultivated lands like storks, sparrows and pigeons.

About one hundred, otherwise threatened Asian wild horses galloping on the former arable land of Chernobyl; the horses brought to the closed zone in 1990, as a result of an experiment; and the species apparently gained a foothold in the contaminated zone.

Visnevskij talks about the "renaissance of nature", but other scientists are less euphoric regarding the situation around Chernobyl. "Some animals naturally spread in areas, which are isolated, however, this fact can't divert our attention from the consequences of the radioactive contamination, as it still affecting the cuckoo's voice," said Biologist Tim Mousseau who has been studying Chernobyl’s biodiversity for many years.

Visnevskij, however, is optimistic: he believes, if the forest spreads in the abandoned area, flora and fauna will rebound to a healthy level.

(MTI –


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