Wild monkeys to measure Fukushima radiation

Wild monkeys to measure Fukushima radiation (AFP Photo / Kazuhiro Nogi)
Scientists in Japan are struggling to assess the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster amid continuing concerns over high levels of radiation. Now help is at hand in the form of the area’s wild monkey population.

­Radiation levels in the woods near the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster is now going to be measured with the help of the primates.  

Researchers from Fukushima University have designed special collars for the monkeys which will feed  information to scientists.

Each of the collars contains a small radiation survey meter and a GPS transmitter and can be unclipped by remote control, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

This will enable the research team, led by robotics professor Takayuki Takahashi, to recover them and collect data one to two months after releasing the monkeys back into the wild.

Currently, radiation is measured using helicopters – a method which has proved incapable of obtaining the most accurate estimates.  

The project has also been designed to check radiation exposure in wild animals. The monkeys will allow the scientists to compare radiation levels on the ground and in the air, as they spend much of their time sitting high up in trees.

The two-month project is to kick off in spring 2012.