Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the air, and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area.
Scientists have found that wildlife abounds in areas where humans no longer live.
Using remote cameras, researchers at the University of Georgia recovered more than 267,000 photographs of more than 20 species, including raccoon dogs, wild boars, macaques, pheasants, foxes and Japanese hares, in areas surrounding the power plant.
“Our results represent the first evidence that many species of wildlife are currently abundant in the Fukushima evacuation zone, despite the presence of radioactive contamination,” said James Beasley, associate professor at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. . says in the statement.
Photo data was collected from 106 cameras from three zones: Zones where people were excluded due to the highest levels of pollution; areas where a person has been restricted due to an intermediate level of pollution; and areas where people were allowed to stay.
In 120 days, cameras took 46,000 photographs of wild boar, of which more than 26,000 were taken in uninhabited areas.
In contrast, about 13,000 images were taken in areas where people were restricted due to pollution, and 7,000 were taken in areas populated by people.
The researchers also observed higher numbers of raccoons, Japanese martens, weasel-like animals, and Japanese macaques or monkeys in uninhabited or restricted areas.
Species considered “conflict” with humans, such as wild boar, have predominantly been photographed in areas and zones evacuated by humans, Beasley said.
The scientists noted that while the study tracks radiation exposure to wildlife populations as a whole, it does not provide an assessment of the health status of individual animals.