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Wolf and elk in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Pictures by Sergey Gaschak.

THE RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT ZONE HAS TURNED INTO A REFUGE

After 300,000 people had to abondon Chernobyl after the catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986, wildlife have been thriving in the area - including large packs of wolves. Fields, villages and towns are replaced with forests and wetlands, and the fallout zone is now the largest wildlife sanctaury in Europe. 

Despite the radioactivity in the area, animals seem to be as good as unafected, and the wildlife of Chernobyl is considered healthy. Journalist Mary Mycio writes:

According to all the population counts performed by Ukraine and Belarus over the past 27 years, there is enormous animal diversity and abundance. The prevailing scientific view of the exclusion zone has become that it is an unintentional wildlife sanctuary. This conclusion rests on the premise that radiation is less harmful to wildlife populations than we are.”

Read the rest of Mary Mycio’s story about Chernobyl’s wildlife

Watch the rest of Sergey Gaschak’s gallery of Chernobyl’s wildlife

(Source, please do NOT remove!)

By the way, if you ever see moose this close up (or even from somewhat further away), get the hell away. They are NOT gentle giants and they WILL stomp you to bits, even the antler-less females. You can see this one is not a happy camper; she has her calf behind her, her ears are pinned back and her hackles are up. I hope whoever took this picture was smart and spent the rest of the day indoors.

Thorold’s Deer (Cervus albirostris)

Also sometimes known as the white-lipped deer, Thorold’s deer is a threatened species of deer that is endemic to the eastern Tibetan Plateau. Thorold’s deer typically inhabit grassland, shrubland and high altitude forests.  Like other deer C. albirostris is mainly crepuscular and lives in small herds of around ten animals. They are grazers and will feed on a wide range of plants, notably grasses and sedges. However they will eat larger plats like willows and rhododendrons as well.

Currently Cervus albirostris is listed as threatened and faces threats from habitat loss and hunting. 

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Artiodactyla-Cervidae-Cervinae-Cervus-C. albirostris

Image: Greg Geobel