Ten years following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, a developing wildlife population has been discovered by researchers in abandoned areas despite the radiological contamination. On March 11, 2011, the country was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, leaving more than 20,000 deaths or missing bodies and hundreds of thousands of destroyed properties. During the calamity, three devices at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were damaged, discharging radioactive substances into the air. More than 100,000 people were forced to evacuate from the area.

University of Georgia (UGA) researchers have observed that wildlife is substantial in human-free areas in spite of the contamination. In a period 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 near 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 noted that this study only monitors the radiological impact on wildlife populations as a whole and not individually.