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Radiation Reserve Parks
before March 9, 2006

 

Many species of wild animals find shelter in the zones of radioactive contamination of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, where ionizing radiation doses exceed permissible rates of sanitation, where people have moved away and there is no farming and other activities.
 

Group of scientists from Moscow State University Geography Faculty, Rostov University and RAS Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution Problems have studied the phenomenon of radiation reserve parks around Chernobyl nuclear power plant and Novaya Zemlya Archipelago. Besides rare species of birds and animals that have taken over territories, left by human, the experts have found several endangered species of fishes.
 

Not only endangered species settle on the contaminated territories, but also those resident animals and birds who simply can’t bear the stress of permanent contact with the humanity. Many of these species are listed in international and republican Red data Books. The scientists note that in contaminated areas rare species occupy even suburbs and agrolandscapes, which were earlier considered to be unsuitable for living.
 

This phenomenon was first observed in Southern Urals, where animals and birds, which can never be seen in neighbouring, clean, areas with common human activities, live – boars, lynxes, roes, white pelicans, eagle owls, etc. The same experts have later found similar processes near Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Tomsk suburbs, Semipalatinsk nuclear test base.
 

Large-scale migration of big animals to Chernobyl NPP zone was detected several months after the accident. About 400 foxes, numerous boars and deers, 7-8 wolf packs, which were never seen here before, moved here from neighbouring territories. Later several endangered bird species (black stork, golden eagle and whooper) were also detected despite the fact they’ve disappeared from the territory several decades ago. Ukrainian ecologists had reacted immediately. In 1991 several small reserve parks were organized near Chernobyl NPP, in 1997 Przhevalsky horses were introduced there, and in 1999 – wisents came, who have successfully naturalized on the contaminated territories.
 

In the end of nineties scientists have found six USSR Red data Book fish species (Ukrainian lamper eel, undermouth and Black Sea vimba among them) in the Pripyat and Teterev rivers, which are contaminated with radionuclides. In rare fish tissues the scientists have found high concentrations of Cs-137 and heavy internal radiation dose.
 

Novaya Zemlya archipelago (where nuclear tests were performed since 1954) was the last inspected object among radiation reserve parks. Novaya Zemlya is the largest archipelago of Russian Arctic. There are only turnpikes and several polar stations except nuclear test base staff. Recent studies have showed that Novaya Zemlya fauna is richer that was considered earlier. Bird species are most diverse. Here one can find such rare species as white-billed loon, golden eagle, erne, some species of seagulls and brants. Archipelago coastal waters are inhabited with four endangered whale species and salmon, trout and Arctic cisco. Seals, walruses and polar bears are also among rare and endangered mammals inhabiting Novaya Zemlya. Moreover, the scientists admit that eastern side of archipelago, its inner territories and numerous small islands in coastal waters are still little explored. The effect of radioactive waste discharge to the Barents and Kara seas on sea mammals and fish also remains unclear
 

So, the experts in biogeography and ecology concluded that population leaving contaminated areas and cancellation of farming activities, game and fishing have promoted animal species, listed in various Red data Books, to inhabit deserted territories. The scientists think that facts of unusual sheltering of rare animals should become the subject to special studies within federal research program “Biodiversity of Russia”, and said territories should obtain officially approved “radiation reserve park” status.
 


Tags: ecology     

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