Life After Chernobyl: Wildlife of the Zone

This place in the Northern Ukraine is known worldwide as a dangerous land. Here, in 1986, a nuclear catastrophe took place, forcing people to avoid the Chernobyl Zone for more than thirty years. However, theabsence of people made a surprisingly good influence on the wild nature in the surrounding forests, towns, and villages. The unique species of enormous size may be met here by stalkers and researchers nowadays.

About 100 thousand people in Ukraine and Belarus left their houses to avoid the radiation, leaving the animals to be the only inhabitants of the exclusion zone. Photographers of Reuters went to the abandoned villages and the deepest woods to take the exclusive shots of the Chernobyl animals.

The Mother Nature, as ancient Slavs used to call their goddess of Earth, is wiser than most people believe. Wildlife re-creates itself, and now the Zone has all the possibility to become a natural preserve. These unique photos were taken in the wisent breeding grounds around the abandoned village of Dronky, Belarus. Wisents, or European bisons, disappeared from the whole region except from Chernobyl.

Animals are not afraid of people here. They come close to the cameras and take food directly from the hands, merely letting people pet them. These animals knew no harm of people and became rather curious seeing humans around. Especially when people bring some lunch!

The scientists proved that animals that stayed in the Chernobyl Zone survived because of the antioxidants, which were developed in their bodies to fight radiation.

Przewalski’s horses used to be domesticated and kept by people on a farm. After the catastrophe, they were let free, and now, 30 years after, the population of these horses in the wild nature has dramatically increased. They walk freely along the radiation signs.

Wild animals walk along the streets of the abandoned city of Pripyat. You do not have to be a stalker to visit this city, as many Ukrainian travel companies offer the tours to the Chernobyl Zone, as the level of radiation is getting closer to normal again.

This curious woodpecker knows nothing about the radiation, so the rare stalkers can hear his drumming from the deep woods. Bright birds add life and color to the gloomy places, abandoned by humans.

The population of wolves in the Zone reached the level of 300+. This number exceeds the number of people who still live there (about 150 persons keep living their lives around the Chernobyl). The wolves show no aggression towards the humans, with whom they share the woods.

This photo of the girl, playing with a domesticated wolf, was taken in 2009 in a little village of Nadbrezhe, Belarus. And one more time we see the proof that life goes on no matter what happens.


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