The Secret Wildlife Haven Between North & South Korea


| LAST UPDATE 03/07/2023

By Stanley Wickens
north korea animals wildlife
Joao Andre O. Dias via Flickr

The demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is a wildlife haven that's been thriving for over 70 years! This untouched strip of land has become a sanctuary for rare plants and animals. Thanks to minimal human interference, the damaged nature was able to recover on its own, building up a new ecosystem not seen around the cities.

The DMZ is a buffer zone between the two countries that is surrounded by fences and landmines. It stretches for 160 miles (257 kilometers) and covers an area of 560 square miles, making it one of the world's largest areas of undeveloped land. Recently, Google Arts & Culture released images of this beautiful stretch of land, showing high-level biodiversity in a 560-square-mile area that has remained undisturbed for several decades. The project also allows viewers to take a "virtual tour" of historical sites from the war and artwork based on people's experiences in the region. The DMZ is home to plants and animals completely unique to Korea - 38% of which are endangered. Unmanned cameras installed by the National Institute of Ecology show endangered cranes, musk deer, bears, and mountain goats among a wide range of habitats - including snowy mountains, wetlands, and forests.

DMZ crocodiles sanctuary korea
Matt Waters from Pexels
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One interesting fact about this area is that otters move freely along the river between North and South Korea! These adorable creatures have made their home in this region thanks to its untouched natural beauty. These cameras also captured an Asiatic black bear for the first time in 20 years - a species in rapid decline due to habitat destruction and poaching. In all, there are over 6,168 wildlife species living on this land, including plants, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, freshwater fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, and spiders. Environmental organizations and researchers continue to call for established environmental protection for the DMZ. However, a collaboration between North and South Korea would be required for this process which seems unlikely given that the conflict between them has not formally ended since it concluded in an armistice rather than a peace treaty in 1953.

It's amazing how nature can thrive when left alone! The DMZ serves as a reminder that even amidst conflict, there can still be pockets of beauty waiting to be discovered. Let's hope that something will be done soon to preserve this precious area so future generations can enjoy it too. And in the meantime, check out these other fascinating species.

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