Wildlife in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone: Bears, Wolves and Rare Horses Roam the Forests

Camera traps set up in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have photographed many species of wildlife roaming the forests.

Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx), December 2012Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Red deer (Cervus elaphus), date unknownSergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Wild boar (Sus scrofa), November 2012Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), January 2009Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
European crane (Grus grus), July 2013Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), August 2014Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Eurasian elk (Alces alces), April 2013Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), March 2014Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine

Almost 30 years after the nuclear disaster, the woods are teeming with birds and large mammals, including brown bears. Bears had not been seen in this area for more than a century, so researchers were surprised to find the first images of bears when they checked their cameras.

Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), February 2014Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine

Many species of animals flourish in the (officially) human-free environment. A herd of Przewalski’s horses, an endangered subspecies of wild horse once considered extinct in the wild, grew to around 200 members – until poachers reduced their number to about 60.

In addition to the wild animals, the camera traps also spotted domestic dogs, now presumed feral.

Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), December 2013Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine
Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
Feral dog (Canis lupus familiaris), August 2013Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine

The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 led to lethal levels of radiation. The project, which aims to estimate the risk of radiation exposure to humans and wildlife., will run until the end of next year, after which researchers will select one species to target to be part of a trapping and collaring campaign.

“We will be fitting collars with GPS to these animals, and also dose-measurement technology so that we are then able to track movement over the course of a year through the exclusion zone and get a real measurement of the exact radiation exposure that these animals get,” said Wood.

Chernobyl wildlife camera traps
European grey wolf (Canis lupus lupus), January 2009Sergey Gashchak, Chornobyl Center, Ukraine

By November 28, 2014

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/wildlife-chernobyl-exclusion-zone-bears-wolves-rare-horses-roam-forests-1477124 

 

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