Has Chernobyl, Nuclear Disaster Site, Become A Haven For Wild Animals?

By Grace Taylor
A photo taken on January 22, 2016 shows wild Przewalski's horses on a snow covered field in the Chernobyl exclusions zone. (Getty Images)

On April 26, 1986, a nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant led to the worst nuclear disaster in world history, expelling 400 times more radioactive material than the Hiroshima bomb and leaving over 1,000 square miles of Earth uninhabitable for human life. But what about wildlife? Clearly, they didn't get the memo about the adverse effects of nuclear fallout. Since the catastrophe, the area around the defunct power plant has been teeming with animals and plants.

Nature Is Healing

Of course, initially, the radioactivity wiped out most animals, even the invertebrates living in the soil, but despite the half-life of nuclear fallout being around 30 years, it seems that it only took several months for animals to begin feeling well enough to reenter the area. Over the next decade, animals began not only living but thriving in the abandoned towns of Belarus, with large animals like boar, elk, and deer doing especially well. Predator species like the grey wolf, raccoon dogs, lynx, and red fox have blossomed in the forgotten forests, as they no longer have humans to contend with.