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Effects on Wildlife

In the years after the evacuation of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), Belarussian and Ukrainian scientists noticed a big change in the ecosystem of the Zone: animals associated with human populations such as rats and pigeons declined in numbers whilst wild animal populations increased. Studies of mammals in the CEZ (JS was a co-author) found that large mammal densities were comparable to other nature reserves in Belarus, the only difference being that wolf population density was much higher in the CEZ, probably because of lower hunting pressure. 

That doesn't mean that radiation is good for plants and animals, just that human habitation, forestry, hunting etc. is much worse. There are still some, relatively small, hotspots in the CEZ (such as the Red Forest, where trees died from the intense radiation in the days after the accident). There are likely to be subtle effects of radiation on plants and animals in the hotspots, but this research area is controversial and complicated. For a fascinating read of the experience of Ron Chesser and Robert Baker of Texas Tech University from many years' researching mammals in the Red Forest, see this article. Amazing camera trap wildlife photos from Nick Beresford, Mike Wood and Sergey Gaschak can be found here.

The wild boar on our label was inspired by a photo by Tatyana Deryabina who studied mammals for many years in the CEZ. To us, the wild boar represents the resilience of nature, but also the long and difficult road to recovery of the Chernobyl affected people in the face of too many simplistic and often wrong assumptions about their environment.

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