Photo: YouTube/University of Georgia

New study shows wildlife thriving in areas evacuated after Fukushima nuclear meltdown

By Eli Pang, SoraNews24

A new study published by the University of Georgia reveals the rising abundance of wildlife in rural areas of Fukushima once previously inhabited by humans, but now abandoned after the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in 2011. Over the course of four months, 160 cameras set up in the evacuated zones have taken 267,000 photos of more than 20 different animal species. The video below, courtesy of @University of Georgia, shows a sample of the study’s photos:

What makes this study important is that there was no previous data available in regards to how the aftermath of the nuclear disaster affected wildlife populations in evacuated areas, making the study’s findings a boon to scientists researching animal behavior patterns. The study also helps wildlife biologists and ecologists answer the pressing question: how does a disaster such as a nuclear meltdown affect the behavioral patterns of wildlife in a specific area?

Though the video posted above is less than half a minute, we can see several different examples of wildlife roaming undisturbed through the forests of evacuated zones:

▼ Masked palm civets, a distant cousin to the mongoose, making their way through the dark


▼ Macaques playing within a bamboo grove


▼ A fox waking up beneath a snow-covered pine


While the animals shown above have no deviations in their typical behavioral patterns, scientists at the University of Georgia have specifically discovered different behavior for two species in the absence of humans: the Japanese boar and the Japanese serow. Japanese boar in evacuated zones have been found to have become more active in the daytime, possibly due to the lack of human interference.

Another animal that has shown deviations from normal behavioral pattern is the Japanese serow. Heralded as a national symbol of Japan’s forests, the goat-antelope, considered a rare sight, has been caught frequently by the study’s cameras. Scientists hypothesize that the Japanese serows in the evacuated areas have changed their movements due to the widening range of the Japanese boar.

▼ The rare serow captured in plain view


An abridged, translated version of the study garnered a variety of responses from Japanese netizens:

“No humans to hunt them or destroy their habitats. This must be heaven for the animals.”

“Seems like a similar situation to Chernobyl.”

“I wonder if any of the animals mutated due to radiation exposure?”

It should be noted that this study is not focused on how radiation can affect animals and potential mutations to their genes, but rather what type of behavioral changes occur within animal populations in the wake of a nuclear meltdown. While only time can tell how the wildlife near Fukushima’s inhabitable zone will genetically evolve, the profusion of animals is a testament of not only Mother Nature’s strength, but also a symbol of the resilience of those who choose to stay in the now evacuated zones.

Source: UGA Today via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- New research suggests even low-level radiation in Fukushima negatively impacting wildlife

-- Haruki Murakami’s solution to the nuclear power debate in Japan: Actually call it “nuclear power”

-- U.S. military personnel launch US$5 billion lawsuit against Tokyo Electrical Power Company

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Yeah, and what mutations have these animals gone through because of eating radiated plants and fruits?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Yeah, and what mutations have these animals gone through because of eating radiated plants and fruits?

Exactly! Plus, what's the mortality rate? Has it gone up or down?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Go back up and read that last paragraph. ;) The study was not about genetic mutations. "Thriving" probably means the animals are not dying off in mass numbers. From the photos the animals look healthy on the outside, but like the article says, "Only time can tell" those affects on the animals.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

They're easier to spot cause they glow in the dark now.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Of course this is expected since no humans are around to scare or kill them off. However just because there is growth of the animals does not mean they are not radiated by eating the plants in an area that is radioactive. Perhaps a study of the genetics or blood cells will tell a much different picture. Looks can be deceiving but on the inside the guts may have other not seen abnormalities.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Doubt they are especially highly radiated...

Perhaps a few percentage more than the usual. They would have to be in the vicinity of the plant itself to get a bigger doze, so I would not expect a two head rabbits or glowing zombie bears anytime soon.

I am not sure if the study name is a good title too. It should be more or less how animal behavior patterns change when humans are not around. Instead of the meltdown part...

9 ( +10 / -1 )


Just about the only sensible comment so far. Humans have a habit of hunting animals, putting them in zoos, or just wrecking their habitat. Now that they're gone, the animals are left in peace.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What is this article meant to invoke?

A feel good sense of being?

Most posters wonder about the effects of the nuclear fallout and they should look at studies undertaken by Hokkaido University which concludes that insects and birds suffered genetic damage post 2011.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

From the headline, I was expecting photos of animals roaming urban areas, but it looks like it focused on woodland near abandoned areas of human habitation.

To be honest, lots of woodland throughout Japan is empty of people. Many tree plantations have been abandoned and folks don't gather wild plants and mushrooms in anything like the numbers they used to. For that reason, I wouldn't expect that woodland near the (not-that-big) abandoned parts of Fukushima to be that different to the rest of Japan. The vast majority of Fukushima still has humans living in it.

Serows may be rare in Fukushima but you can see them all over in Nagano. They are a fairly common sight inside ski resorts during winter.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So a hermit could live there pretty well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The same thing would happen in any area abandoned by humans - it would revert to its former natural state. It would be more informative to have tested these animals for effects of genetic damage or mutation from radiation.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The same thing has happened in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Without human interference the biodiversity of wildlife has flourished (including one of the world's biggest settlements of gray wolves.)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The same thing would happen in any area abandoned by humans - it would revert to its former natural state. It would be more informative to have tested these animals for effects of genetic damage or mutation from radiation.

The same thing has happened at Chernoybl, and it would happen at any place no longer occupied by humans. Life finds a way to survive.

The immediate impact would be death, short life expectancy, and rapid mutations, but those animals that survive will thrive.

It is evolution!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The same thing happened at Chernobyl. It has become a wildlife haven with no human intervention. However, nobody has done any studies on the health and longevity of the animals. I'd guess the respective governments don't want people to know what is actually going on with the health of the animals left in these irradiated zones.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I haven't heard of any super large Ants around the Fukushima plant, nor of any mutated Giant Fish monsters.... so I guess we have to wait some more time.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Serows aren't rare at all, I see them all the time when riding my bike in the countryside. Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are studies out there that show low level radiation as being damaging to genes...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The exclusion zone isn’t so large that these animals needed to increase in numbers within it. They could have simply moved over a bit from the adjacent human-stressed areas. And, who is to say that they weren’t there all along? Except for the bear, I have seen all in my relatively high human infested area. The meme that the area is safe for animals is getting old. Too bad that they can’t read the signs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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