A guide to the New East
Animals of Chernobyl
Welcome to the wildlife paradise in a nuclear exclusion zone

The Stalkeresque landscapes of Chernobyl exclusion zone hide many secrets from prying eyes — among them, a growing variety of animals which have come to replace people in this once heavily urbanised area. It appears that radiation bothers animals much less than human presence, as was discovered by Dr Sergey Gaschak from the Chernobyl Centre in Ukraine. The scientist placed 42 cameras on the grounds of the contaminated forest. His experiment brought to light some remarkable findings: as it turns out, Chernobyl’s woods have attracted a roster of rare species that are endangered elsewhere, including European bison, brown bears and Przewalski's horses. As if in some post-apocalyptic version of Noah's Ark, some of the most dangerous predators live peacefully side by side; carefree moose and Capreolus deer share the forests with muskrats and badgers while being watched from above by Eurasian cranes and white-tailed eagles.

Text: Igor Zinatulin
Image: Dr Sergey Gaschak / Chernobyl Centre, Slavutych

More from Photography

Hassan Kurbanbaev

The Uzbek photographer capturing the essence of Moscow

Lenin’s homecoming

Retracing the Bolshevik’s journey back to Russia to lead the revolution

Happy campers

What’s it like to live in Butlins, Britain’s cheap and cheerful resort?

Selfies, tattoos and Kalashnikovs

Inside the digital life of a 20-something Ukrainian war veteran

Kosovo today

Mapping the invisible borders of Europe’s youngest nation

Georgia by drone

Take one last spectacular flight over these Caucasian landmarks