A recent study suggests that many animal species appear to flourish in areas abandoned by humans around Fukushima.
We know that nature has taken over in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. In the absence of humans, wolves, boars, mink, otters and other white-tailed eagles have settled very well. Recently, researchers have even reported the presence of a Eurasian elk and lynx in these countries.
What about the Fukushima region, victim of a nuclear accident in 2011? Biologist James Beasley of the University of Georgia (United States) conducted the investigation several months ago. He details his work in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
Over 20 species listed
For this study, the researcher placed dozens of photographic traps distributed over three distinct areas. A first zone where humans are completely absent due to the risk of contamination, a second zone where human presence is restricted, due to an intermediate level of contamination, and finally a third zone where human presence is “normal”.
After 120 days of study, the researcher compiled 267,000 photos of wild animals from more than 20 species. The most represented was the wild boar (46,000 photos taken). There were also many Japanese hares, macaques, pheasants or foxes, among others.
It also appears that animals were more represented in the area inhabited by humans. Of the 46,000 photos of wild boars captured, for example, 26,000 were taken in this area, compared to around 13,000 in the restricted human presence zone and 7,000 in the inhabited zone.
Usual behavioral patterns
In addition to the human presence, the researcher also determined that the type of habitat (mountainous or coastal) was the main factor influencing the abundance of the species evaluated, rather than the radiation levels.
The activity pattern of most of the species analyzed also seems to correspond to their habits. Raccoons, for example, which are nocturnal animals, are always more active at night in Fukushima, while pheasants, which are diurnal birds, are always more active during the day.
Wild boars, on the other hand, are more active during the day in areas abandoned by humans. And conversely, they are more active at night in busy areas. In other words, here again, it is mainly the human presence which modifies the behavior of this species.