Equine Rescue

Wild horses flourish in Chernobyl 35 years after explosion

Courtesy of RTL Today

Thirty-five years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster surging flora and fauna have taken over deserted tower blocks

Down an overgrown country road, three startled wild horses with rugged coats and rigid manes dart into the flourishing overgrowth of their unlikely nature reserve: the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Thirty-five years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster — an anniversary commemorated in the ex-Soviet country on Monday — surging flora and fauna have taken over deserted tower blocks, shops and official buildings topped with communist icons.

Ukrainian authorities say the area maybe not be fit for humans for 24,000 years, but for now this breed of wild horse has thrived.

“It’s really a symbol of the reserve and even the exclusion zone in general,” said Denys Vyshnevsky, head of the scientific department of the Chernobyl nature reserve created in the area five years ago.

The explosion in the fourth reactor at the nuclear power plant in April, 26, 1986 left swathes of Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus badly contaminated and led to the creation of a no man’s land within a 30-kilometre (19-mile) radius of the station.

Dozens of villages and towns were evacuated, turning the area into a giant reserve unprecedented in Europe by its size.

More than three decades after the incident there has been an influx of visitors to the area, spurring officials to seek official status — and protection — from UNESCO.

– A ‘unique’ chance to save biodiversity –

Since the disaster, the area has become a haven for elk, wolves — and the stocky endangered breed of wild horse native to Asia, Przewalski’s horse.

The breed, named after Russian scientist Nikolai Przewalski (or Takhi) who discovered it in the Asia expansive Gobi desert, became all but extinct by the middle of the 20th century, partially due to over hunting.

It was reintroduced by scientists to areas of Mongolia, China and Russia as part of preservation efforts.

In a different program, 30 of the horses were released into the Chernobyl zone in 1998, replacing an extinct horse native to the region, the Tarpan…(CONTINUED)


3 replies »

  1. This is example, with Przewalski’s horse, in this deserted area, reintroduced, that the wild horse is a benefit to the ecosystem whereever it is allowed to thrive. Also that this hands off, unmanaged and untouched approach has proven to be a benefit, and not a detriment. With all my heart this type of situation is what I desire to see in these United States. The wild horses and burros do not need to be managed or altered artificially. Let them be the benefit that they are, wild, free, the beautiful icon that they are


  2. This is interesting to read for many reasons, and especially poignant to see healthy foals and healthy parents, like RC says, without the hand of man meddling much, if at all.

    The population numbers also provide an excellent baseline to counter the hysterical inflation we see published in the USA, mostly from the agencies in charge of the information, which almost without fail cannot be independently verified, and always damns the horses and burros for “overpopulating” their managed areas.

    The P horse population here was 30 animals introduced in 1998.

    Now, 23 years later, they cound 150 animals, with another 60 in nearby Belarus, for a total of 210.

    If I did the calculation correctly, that comes to an annual (surviving) growth rate of around 14%, with natural predators intact in the ecosystem. The article doesn’t indicate any losses or health concerns relating to radiation, so that remains an unknown, but nevertheless this is a strong rebuttal to the “doubling every 4 years” argument repeatedly regurgitated by our government officials and the media.

    We also have evidence in our own HMAs of populations more or less achieving stasis but these are smaller, more remote, less affected by hamfisted “management” intrusions, and key: the natural predators are also left mostly undisturbed.

    So we have the evidence but not the will to produce better (and legally congruent) outomes for our tax dollars and our wildlife?


  3. Its clear how successful Europe’s re-wilding is. Too bad the US cant comprehend leaving nature to be nature – without US!


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