The world’s worst ever nuclear disaster took place at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine back in 1986, and its effects are still being felt today. A 30-km (19-mile) exclusion zone is in place around the disaster site, which is still highly contaminated with the radiation released following the accident.

While not fit for human habitation, wildlife has made a remarkable comeback in the exclusion zone; there are said to be more than 60 different types of mammals living there including wild boar and elk. Wolves are doing especially well, with a population that is seven times the size of wolf populations in neighboring reserves.

Far from becoming the barren wasteland that many predicted after the catastrophic event the area has, in the absence of humans, become host to a great biodiversity. It really shows the power of nature to recover when left alone without us around to get in the way of things!

Proof of this can be seen in this fascinating list compiled by Bored Panda. Marvel at the way that grey concrete blocks are gradually giving way to greenery, as plants and trees slowly engulf the ruins of the former Soviet town. You can also meet some of the local wildlife celebrities, who are looking remarkably healthy considering the highly contaminated land around them.

So scroll down below to see Mother Nature majestically reclaiming her territory, and let us know what you think in the comments!

#1

I Finally Met The Famous Pripyat Fox Simon

I Finally Met The Famous Pripyat Fox Simon

The accident at Chernobyl was caused by human error. According to Reuters, facility operators, in violation of safety regulations, had switched off important control systems at the plant’s reactor number four and allowed it to reach unstable, low-power conditions.

A power surge led to a series of blasts, at 1.24 a.m., which blew off the reactor’s heavy steel and concrete lid and sent a cloud of radioactive dust billowing across northern and western Europe, reaching as far as the eastern United States. The cloud of radioactive strontium, caesium and plutonium affected mainly Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as parts of Russia and Europe.

#2

Meet Simon, The Red Fox Of The Radioactive Red Forest

Meet Simon, The Red Fox Of The Radioactive Red Forest

#3

Tree Growing On The 8th Floor

Tree Growing On The 8th Floor

The Chernobyl Forum, a group of eight U.N. agencies, and the governments of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, have estimated the death toll at only a few thousand as a result of the explosion.

U.N. agencies have said some 4,000 people will die in total because of radiation exposure. 

However, the environmental group Greenpeace puts the eventual death toll far higher than official estimates, with up to 93,000 extra cancer deaths worldwide, while the Chernobyl Union of Ukraine, a non-government body, estimates the present death toll from the disaster at almost 734,000.

#4

Today Our Team Came Across The Burial Site Of A Beloved Pet In Chernobyl

Today Our Team Came Across The Burial Site Of A Beloved Pet In Chernobyl

#5

Przewalski’s Horses

Przewalski's Horses

A group of Przewalski’s horses grazing in the Chernobyl Exclusion zone. In the background the New Safe Confinement (“Sarcophagus 2”) can be seen.

The disaster was the object of a cover-up by secretive Soviet authorities who did not immediately admit to the explosion.

Eventually, a make-shift cover — the ‘Sarcophagus’ — was built, in the six months after the explosion. It covers the stricken reactor to protect the environment from radiation for at least 30 years. This has now developed cracks, triggering an international effort to fund a new encasement. Radioactive nuclear fuel is still being removed from the plant today.

#6

Nature Taking Over Pripyat. What Is The Cost Of Lies?

Nature Taking Over Pripyat. What Is The Cost Of Lies?

#7

Nature Wins The Battle Against Civilization

Nature Wins The Battle Against Civilization

But how have plants and animals survived and flourished despite the high levels of radiation? It is true, radiation does have real, harmful effects on flora and fauna, and may shorten the lives of individual plants and animals. But if life-sustaining resources are in abundant enough supply and burdens are not fatal, then life will flourish.

According to Science Alert, the burden brought by radiation at Chernobyl is less severe than the benefits reaped from humans leaving the area. The Chernobyl exclusion zone is now “essentially one of Europe’s largest nature preserves, the ecosystem supports more life than before, even if each individual cycle of that life lasts a little less.”

“In a way, the Chernobyl disaster reveals the true extent of our environmental impact on the planet. Harmful as it was, the nuclear accident was far less destructive to the local ecosystem than we were. In driving ourselves away from the area, we have created space for nature to return.”

#8

30 Years Later, Pripyat Has Turned Into A Sort Of Nature Reserve

30 Years Later, Pripyat Has Turned Into A Sort Of Nature Reserve

#9

Overgrown House In Zalissya (Village Inside Chernobyl Exclusion Zone)

Overgrown House In Zalissya (Village Inside Chernobyl Exclusion Zone)

#10

The Buildings In Pripyat Have Not Received Maintenance For More Than 30 Years, Here In The Hospital The Dereliction Is Obvious

The Buildings In Pripyat Have Not Received Maintenance For More Than 30 Years, Here In The Hospital The Dereliction Is Obvious

#11

Nature Wins The Battle Against Civilization

Nature Wins The Battle Against Civilization

#12

An Old Phone Box Hidden Away In The Undergrowth In Pripyat. Unused Since 1986

An Old Phone Box Hidden Away In The Undergrowth In Pripyat. Unused Since 1986

#13

Duga Radar

Duga Radar

#14

Pripyat – River Boat

Pripyat - River Boat

#15

Chernobyl Bus Station

Chernobyl Bus Station

#16

Pripyat Hospital

Pripyat Hospital

A very huge building in Pripyat. In the basement lies the clothes of firemen who where first to the accident site after the meltdown. The room with the clothes is one of the most radioactive spots in the whole exlusion zone

#17

May 2019

May 2019

#18

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

#19

Pripyat – Palace Of Culture “Energetik”

Pripyat - Palace Of Culture "Energetik"

#20

Pripyat Is No Longer The Ghost Town What It Was. Now It Is Consumed By The Forest And Plants. Nature Persistently Takes It Back

Pripyat Is No Longer The Ghost Town What It Was. Now It Is Consumed By The Forest And Plants. Nature Persistently Takes It Back

#21

Pripyat

Pripyat

#22

Chernobyl – Children’s Camp “Emerald”

Chernobyl - Children's Camp "Emerald"

#23

Hospital

Hospital

#24

Overgrown Building

Overgrown Building

#25

Pripyat

Pripyat

#26

Pripyat – The Ghost City Crowned By Sweet Silence And Beautiful Wild Nature

Pripyat - The Ghost City Crowned By Sweet Silence And Beautiful Wild Nature

#27

Looking At The Chernobyl Power Plant From Pripyat

Looking At The Chernobyl Power Plant From Pripyat

#28

Overgrown Rails. Nature Takes Everything Back

Overgrown Rails. Nature Takes Everything Back

#29

Nature Is Slowly Taking Back The Derelict Buildings In This Eerie Ghost Town

Nature Is Slowly Taking Back The Derelict Buildings In This Eerie Ghost Town

With the lack of people, nature has reclaimed the city. Foxes, roe deer, birds of prey, wild horses, and even wolves can now be found living throughout the dense forests of Chernobyl.

#30

Residence Hall For The Plant Workers

Residence Hall For The Plant Workers

#31

Abandoned House In A Village Close To Chernobyl

Abandoned House In A Village Close To Chernobyl

#32

Pripyat

Pripyat

#33

Four Floor Up In A School Building And The Wild Life Is Taking Over

Four Floor Up In A School Building And The Wild Life Is Taking Over

#34

Carnival Swings, Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Carnival Swings, Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

#35

Pripyat

Pripyat

#36

Pripyat School

Pripyat School

See Also on Bored Panda

This Flower’s Petals Look Like Hummingbirds This Flower’s Petals Look Like Hummingbirds

#37

Visited Chernobyl. The Overgrown Amusement Park Of Pripyat!

Visited Chernobyl. The Overgrown Amusement Park Of Pripyat!

#38

Abandoned Apartment In Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned Apartment In Pripyat, Ukraine

#39

Ghost City Pripyat Against The Background Of A New Confinement Over The Fourth Nuclear Power Unit Of The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Ghost City Pripyat Against The Background Of A New Confinement Over The Fourth Nuclear Power Unit Of The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

#40

Ghost Town Where Nature Took Over

Ghost Town Where Nature Took Over

#41

Pripyat

Pripyat

#42

Nature Taking Over

Nature Taking Over

#43

Nature Slowly Taking Over The Swimming Pool Of Pripyat

Nature Slowly Taking Over The Swimming Pool Of Pripyat

#44

Pripyat: Nature Taking Over

Pripyat: Nature Taking Over

#45

Room For Newborns

Room For Newborns

#46

Swing Set

Swing Set

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#47

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel

The Pripyat amusement park was to be opened on May 1, 1986, in time for the May Day celebrations but the plans were interrupted when on April 26 the Chernobyl disaster occurred a few kilometers away. The park was opened for a couple of hours on April 27 to keep the city people entertained before the announcement to evacuate the city was made. Today, the park, and in particular the Ferris wheel, are a symbol of the Chernobyl disaster.

#48

Pripyat – Lenin Square

Pripyat - Lenin Square

#49

Mother Nature Reclaims Her Land Slowly But Steady

Mother Nature Reclaims Her Land Slowly But Steady

#50

Ferris Wheel – Then And Now

Ferris Wheel - Then And Now

#51

Pripyat Town Square

Pripyat Town Square

#52

WWII-Era Russian Isu-152 Assault Gun Abandoned In Chernobyl

WWII-Era Russian Isu-152 Assault Gun Abandoned In Chernobyl

#53

This Line Is Currently Unavailable, Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

This Line Is Currently Unavailable, Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

#54

Novarka And The 4th Reactor As Seen From Pripyat

Novarka And The 4th Reactor As Seen From Pripyat

#55

On Top Of The Apartment Complex

On Top Of The Apartment Complex

#56

Meanwhile In Chernobyl Zone

Meanwhile In Chernobyl Zone

See Also on Bored Panda

#57

Slide

Slide

#58

Central Stadium In Pripyat

Central Stadium In Pripyat

#59

Microdistrict Number 4

Microdistrict Number 4

#60

Chernobyl From Air

Chernobyl From Air

#61

Primary School Playground Slide

Primary School Playground Slide

#62

View From Roof Of Polissya Hotel. You Can Start To See The Way Nature Has Taken Over

View From Roof Of Polissya Hotel. You Can Start To See The Way Nature Has Taken Over

#63

Abandonned School In Pripyat Inside The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Abandonned School In Pripyat Inside The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

#64

Pripyat

Pripyat

#65

Pripyat Amusement Park

Pripyat Amusement Park

#66

Pripyat, Chernobyl

Pripyat, Chernobyl

See Also on Bored Panda

#67

Pripyat – School No. 2

Pripyat - School No. 2

#68

Abandoned Market/Café On A Sunny Day In Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned Market/Café On A Sunny Day In Pripyat, Ukraine

#69

Gymnasium With Trees Growing From The Floor (Pripyat)

Gymnasium With Trees Growing From The Floor (Pripyat)

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