Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl

Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl

From time to time, nature really surprises us with some amazing and shocking things that really happen, which look more like some science fiction film than a true story. This is the story just like that.  

Wolf

Photo by Jethro Taylor

It has past more than 25 years since the nuclear power plant accident in Chernobyl, which devastated an area of about 1200 square miles and left that area unfit for humans. People who lived in most contaminated areas were evacuated and relocated by government order.

That land was without people, all you could see is empty houses and governments devices. So the question is: how does nature react after a nuclear disaster, and how does wildlife deal with the world it inherits after human inhabitants left? In 2009 scientists traveled to The Zone to get an idea of the apparently large number of wolf population that find this area the perfect natural environment. These scientists were surprised that nobody had ever questioned before about how many wolves actually lived here and how could the animals bear the radioactivity?

Generations after most people left, wetlands and forests have consumed towns, villages and fields that were once-tended. Only the ruins testify to the former humans. Just a few wild animals lived in the region because their habitats had been ruined, but large mammals started to appear almost immediately after the evacuation of people, so very quickly the animal population exploded. Through a short period of time internal radiation levels have dramatically dropped. Some animals recently tested still show safe levels of radiation but in a surprise to everyone, the animals all looked physically normal.

This place is officially guarded by military as “exclusion zone” and is consisted of uninhabited, mysterious wilderness and empty buildings. When people left there were rumors that this zone has become host to a various animal population, including “the largest wolf density on the planet” which is later determined that has been true. The wolves are still the zone’s main predator, which makes them a great ‘indicator” of just how radioactive Chernobyl animals are and how do all these animals affect on nature.

Access to the zone is now allowed, at least on a limited basis, and scientists are monitoring the surviving of all animals in that area, trying to understand  how these species are dealing with the invisible blight of radiation. As the main predators in this new landscape wolves best show the situation of the whole ecosystem because if the wolves are surviving and their number just grows, so are the populations of their prey.

 

Many rumors exist based on the idea that Chernobyl is an animal death trap, but then all wolves of that area wouldn’t survive as they would die very quickly. Just contrary, these rumors are not true because that ecosystem is booming and very healthy.

Wolf - Just watching_0845Photo by flamesworddragon

When people left that area, the disaster itself created a safe wildlife refuge for all animals, so we can just make a conclusion that radiation is less harmful to wildlife populations than we are.