Wildlife Thrives After Chernobyl Disaster

Posted: Oct 7 2015, 8:46am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Wildlife Thrives After Chernobyl Disaster
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Researchers surprisingly observed abundance of animal population in Chernobyl after nuclear meltdown force humans to leave the place.

The 1986 Chernobyl disaster affected the lives of thousands of humans. The meltdown of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant resulted in the killing of a few dozen and the evacuation of around 116,000 people.

Cities and villages, surrounding a 1,600 square mile area from the nuclear exclusion zone, have been totally empty for more than 30 years. But a new study from researchers of University of Portsmouth claims that in the absence of humans, animals have taken over the place and many wildlife species including elk, roe deer, red deer, boar and wolf are thriving there.

Wolf population in the area is seven times higher than ever before. Helicopter survey also indicated that they have found an abundance of many mammal species in the region.

“The results demonstrate for the first time that regardless of potential radiation effects on individual animals, the Chernobyl exclusion zone supports an abundant mammal community after nearly three decades of chronic radiation exposures.” Study reads.

The study is somehow reflecting that the evacuation of the humans was the best thing for the animals and probably humans were more harmful for them than nuclear radiations.

For the study, lead author Jim Smith and his colleagues also have analyzed the data collected by Belarusian experts and compared it with the population of mammals in Chernobyl. They have mapped out several routes of animal tracks, covering almost the whole exclusion zone but surprisingly no significant negative effect has been observed on the animal population.

“Several previous studies of Chernobyl exclusion zone indicated major radiation effects and pronounced reductions in wildlife populations at dose rates well below those thought to cause significant impacts. In contract, our long term empirical data showed no evidence of a negative influence of radiation of mammal abundance.” Authors write in the study.

The study signifies the impact of human activities on the ecosystem. Hunting is probably the biggest threat animals were facing. Distance from humans has helped the population of mammals grow rapidly in the years after nuclear disaster that happed in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

“Our data on time trends cannot separate likely positive effects of human abandonment of the Chernobyl exclusion zone from a potential negative effect of radiation. Nevertheless, they represent unique evidence of wildlife’s resilience in the face of chronic radiation stress.”

The study was published in Cell.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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