Scientists have provided what they say is the first evidence that wildlife is abundant in Japan’s Fukushima Evacuation Zone despite the continuing presence of radiological contamination nearly a decade after the nuclear accident.
They took around 267,000 photographs at 106 different sites over 120 days and recorded more than 20 different species, including Japanese hare, macaques, pheasant, fox and the raccoon dog, a relative of the fox.
Notably prominent were species that are often in conflict with humans, particularly wild boar.
The work, which is described in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, was led by wildlife biologist James Beasley from the University of Georgia, US, whose team has carried out similar studies at the site of the Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine. Chernobyl is reported to now be an important wildlife refuge.
“This research makes an important contribution because it examines radiological impacts to populations of wildlife, whereas most previous studies have looked for effects to individual animals,” says co-author Thomas Hinton, from Fukushima University.