Life after Chernobyl: Sergei Gaschak’s photography from inside 'the zone'
Images from hidden camera reveal how wildlife is thriving in zone closed off to humans for 26 years
Sergei Gaschak’s photography offers an unparalleled glimpse at animal life inside “the zone”, the area of Ukraine and Belarus that has been officially closed off to human habitation since the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe of 1986.
Using camera traps to take photographs mechanically, as well as taking photographs personally, Gaschak has captured what few have been able to see with their own eyes – the remarkable diversity of wildlife within the zone.
One of the first rescuers on the site of the nuclear disaster, Gaschak has devoted recent years to photographing lynxes, otters, owls and other wildlife, and has even discovered the footprints of brown bears. The exclusion zone stretches for miles around the site of the reactor, and includes Pripyat, which was once a thriving Soviet town of 50,000 inhabitants but has remained a ghost town since the disaster, a time warp of perestroika-era Soviet life.
More than 300,000 people evacuated the region in the aftermath of the explosion, and only a few hundred stubborn pensioners have returned, defying government bans on settlement inside the zone.
At the time of the disaster, there were few wild animals living in the region around the nuclear plant. But as the humans moved out in the wake of the catastrophe, large mammals appeared and thrived. While the animals showed incredibly high levels of radiation, they still looked normal. There were no giant wolves or three-headed deer.
According to a book on animal and plant life in the zone, A Natural History of Chernobyl, the only abnormalities found in animals has been albino spots and deformities in barn swallows.
It was a different story with fauna, including the radioactive mushrooms that grow in the area and still cause occasional panic when they find their way into the market stalls of Ukraine and Russia.
But the beasts that roam the deserted zone are normal, save the radiation levels. Indeed, the book suggests that, paradoxically, the dirtiest radioactive site in Europe has become the continent’s biggest animal sanctuary.
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Scientists warn we've hit 'peak beard': The more people grow facial hair, the less attractive it is
£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...
£50000 - £65000 Per Annum potentially flexible for the right candidate: Clearw...
£38000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have experience of ...