Radioactive hybrid boar found in Fukushima, Japan
Edith Jan 19, 2021
Radioactive hybrid pigs have been roaming the area around Fukushima in Japan since the nuclear accident, according to a study published on June 30 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture suffered a nuclear disaster caused by an earthquake and tsunami, becoming the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The area around it had to be evacuated after huge waves inundated the plant's nuclear reactor. Now, after studying the genetics of wild boars in the area, researchers have shown how these animals can survive environmental changes, including runaway domestic pigs. 'We show evidence of successful interbreeding between domestic pigs and native wild boars in the area,' the team said. In future generations, however, the family pig's legacy has been diluted over time.' For the study, Anderson's colleagues analyzed DNA samples from the muscles of 243 wild boar, domestic pig and wild boar hybrids from local slaughterhouses. They found that 16 percent of them were hybrids between wild boars and domestic pigs. According to Japanese government tests, some wild boars had levels of the radioactive element cesium-137 300 times higher than safe standards. 'I don't think pigs can survive in the wild, but wild boars thrive in abandoned towns -- because they're very robust,' Anderson said. The 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident forced thousands of people nearby to flee their homes, and as human activity dwindled, the wild boar, no longer disturbed by human activity, thrived.