Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant melted down, releasing radioactive material into the air and evacuating more than 100,000 people from the area.
Scientists have now discovered that wildlife abounds in areas where humans no longer live.
Using remote-controlled cameras, University of Georgia researchers recovered more than 267,000 photos of more than 20 species — including raccoon dogs, wild boar, macaques, pheasants, foxes and Japanese rabbits — in the vicinity of the power plant.
“Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima evacuation zone despite the presence of radiological contamination,” said James Beasley, associate professor at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources said in a statement.
Photographic data was collected from 106 camera sites from three zones: areas where people were excluded due to the highest level of contamination; Areas where people were restricted due to medium contamination; and areas in which people were allowed to stay.
In 120 days, cameras captured 46,000 photos of wild boar, with more than 26,000 images taken in uninhabited areas.
In contrast, about 13,000 images were taken in zones where people were restricted due to contamination and 7,000 in human-inhabited zones.
Researchers also saw larger numbers of raccoons, Japanese martens, a weasel-like animal, and Japanese macaques or monkeys in uninhabited or restricted zones.
Species considered “conflicting” with humans, such as wild boar, were predominantly photographed in areas and zones that have been evacuated by humans, Beasley said.
While the research monitors the radiological impact on wildlife populations as a whole, it does not provide an assessment of the health of individual animals, the scientists noted.
https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/07/asia/fukushima-wildlife-intl-scli-scn/index.html Wildlife thrives in uninhabited areas around Fukushima