Fukushima – ‘There is something about moving here that shows our strength’

Fukushima Wildlife Living alone at the displaced site of the nuclear disaster is ‘an awesome tribute to humanity,’ says volunteer Who is a ‘good mate’? Photograph: IRTO/ZUMAPRESS.com Volunteers who live at the temporary refugee…

Fukushima – 'There is something about moving here that shows our strength'

Fukushima Wildlife Living alone at the displaced site of the nuclear disaster is ‘an awesome tribute to humanity,’ says volunteer Who is a ‘good mate’? Photograph: IRTO/ZUMAPRESS.com

Volunteers who live at the temporary refugee site for displaced people following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima have revealed that wild wildlife is thriving nearby, despite ongoing fears of radiation contamination.

According to the official media for Japan, the volunteers have even seen rare black crows, giraffes and rhinos in the neighbourhood, and one woman found a tiny antelope, known as a bushbuck, chewing on a tree branch.

It has been nearly six years since the former nuclear plant was destroyed, and for those involved, it is a welcome sight seeing wildlife again. For many of the volunteers, it brings back memories of those who stayed and who have worked hard to support them, showing their resilience.

“There is something about moving here and knowing that nature really has bounced back so well from such a tragedy,” said volunteer Sabina So. “It’s like the good Lord is constantly watching over us and protecting us, but at the same time showing his strength through all this chaos.”

A Bushbuck wandering in a village in the evacuation zone. Photograph: IRTO/ZUMAPRESS.com

“The place has come back so strong that I can even see some of my babies,” said Mike Keough, who lived at the base camp. “I love helping them because I got to leave before they all died. It’s just been a really hard journey for all of us.”

Three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant melted down after the earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the Fukushima city and forced more than 100,000 people from their homes. The plans to reopen the plant were halted due to mounting safety concerns, and the government opted to mothball the plant permanently.

Little remains of the disaster but a buffer zone has been kept in place as a safety measure, and several makeshift settlements of tents and converted shipping containers keep the mostly single, elderly evacuees on their feet.

“When we moved in, I looked out of the window and saw a whale coming up through the river and I was wondering what it was eating,” Keough said. “And then there was this antelope and then all these deer. I thought it was beautiful. I also saw a mouse so strange, and then a buffalo.”

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