April 10 (UPI) -- More than 2,000 species of animals and plants, including several "endangered" organisms, have been identified in the Korean demilitarized zone, the 155-mile no-man's land between North and South.
A survey conducted by South Korea's National Institute of Ecology from February 2018 to January 2019 in the central area of the DMZ, north of the Civilian Control Line, has revealed 2,090 species of wildlife are thriving in the off-limits area, local paper Munhwa Ilbo reported Wednesday.
The survey results indicate there may be more species in the DMZ than previously estimated. In 2013, a total of 1,512 species were identified. The most recent study shows 578 more types of wildlife are living in an area that has become an accidental ecological preserve across the decades.
The 2018-19 study marks the first time South Korean scientists were able to identify the whooper swan, the Eurasian counterpart of the North American trumpeter swan. The bird is listed as a "second-grade" endangered species, according to South Korea's ministry of environment.
Other rare animals spotted at the DMZ include an endangered mountain goat, musk deer, otters and cranes. A total of 19 types of birds have been identified in the most recent study, Seoul's ecology institute said in its report released Wednesday.
The report on the rare ecosystem in the DMZ comes at a time when other operations, including excavations of soldier remains, continue in the area.
Yonhap reported Wednesday Seoul discovered 2,000 items belonging to soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The items were discovered after Seoul resumed digging in Arrowhead Ridge on April 1. The work took place without North Korea participation.