A decade following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, thriving wildlife has been discovered by scientists in deserted areas notwithstanding radiological contamination. On March 11, 2011, the northeast coast of Honshu on the Japan Trench was struck off by a 9.0 magnitude (Mw) earthquake, leaving more than 20,000 casualties or missing and hundreds of thousands of destructions. During the disaster, three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were destroyed, discharging radioactive chemicals into the air. More than 100,000 people were forced to leave the area.

Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) have found out that wildlife is substantial in human-free areas. In the course of 120 days, they collected more than 267,000 photos of more than 20 species using 106 remote cameras. These include raccoon dogs, wild boars, macaques, pheasants, foxes, and Japanese hares in the areas close around the power plant. “Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, despite the presence of radiological contamination,” James Beasley, associate professor at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said in a statement. Meanwhile, scientists clarified that this study only observes the radiological effect on wildlife populations as a whole, and it does not assess the health of each animal.