This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when on April 26, 1986, a test went awry causing reactor number four to explode. At the time at least 50 reactor and emergency workers died during the explosion, or in the aftermath, trying to put out the blaze. 120,000 people were evacuated from the area, including 43,000 from the city of Pripyat.
30 years later, the ghost towns within the 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone in Ukraine, are being reclaimed not by people, but by nature. Some species of mammals are found to be thriving without the effect of human contact in the area. According to a study published in the journal Current Biology, led by environmental scientist Jim Smith at Britain’s University of Portsmouth, the nature reserve zone extending north from Chernobyl power plant into Belarus, found that elk, deer, wild boar, and wolves are now abundant in the Polesie Reserve which was established after the 1986 disaster. An interesting thought experiment, what if all the people of Eastern Shore vanished, leaving this land to return to its primeval beauty? What species of plants and animals would thrive without the burden of people.
Below are a few photographs taken from the exclusion zone in the Ukraine, that may lend a clue to that experiment: