Animals Living in the DMZ

Meet animals living in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone—the border area between North and South Korea) and its surrounding areas, which is home to endangered species of Korea

Red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) in the DMZ areaNational Institute of Ecology

After the Korean War, the DMZ had minimal human interference for over 70 years, and the damaged nature recovered on its own. As a result, it built up a new ecosystem not seen around the cities and has become a sanctuary for wildlife.

Asiatic black bearNational Institute of Ecology

It has been found that a total of 6,168 wildlife species in eight areas such as plants, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, freshwater fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, and spiders live in the DMZ area. In particular, of the 267 endangered species of Korea, 102 (38%) of them live in the DMZ.

Red-crowned craneNational Institute of Ecology


The DMZ is a very important site for cranes, a globally endangered species, to spend the winter. Of the 15 crane species in the world, seven are found in Korea, and the most common are the red-crowned crane and white-naped crane. 

Long-tailed goralNational Institute of Ecology

Mountain goat

Goats, which are classified as Natural Monument No. 217 and Class I endangered wildlife, mainly live in the rocky, mountainous areas around the DMZ. They are difficult to spot from a distance because they are a brownish-gray color and blend in with the rocks. Mountain goats are also known as 'living fossils' because they are almost the same now as they were when they were first discovered on Earth.Mountain goats can also be seen at the National Institute of Ecology (also called Deer Park).

Musk deer (Moschus moschiferus)National Institute of Ecology

Musk deer

The eastern mountain region of the DMZ is where it meets with the Baekdu Mountain Range, and it is the most primeval (old-growth) forest in the DMZ. It maintains the natural forest, thus being home to rare animals and plants. The endangered musk deer were also spotted in the eastern mountain region of the DMZ. It is characterized as a deer without horns. It has long fangs protruding from its upper jaw.

Mongolian racerunner (Eremias argus)National Institute of Ecology

Mongolian racerunner

This has stripes like a leopard, and it is very fast. It normally lives on sandbanks, grass next to rivers, beneath rocks, or by digging holes in the sand, and it preys on insects. Though most disappeared, it was found that they live in groups around the DMZ and are actively reproducing. It is quite rare to find such a stable habitat.

Otter (Lutra lutra)National Institute of Ecology


Otters are mammals that move freely along the river running through South and North Korea. It has become a symbol of peaceful interaction between the two Koreas. But the destruction of their habitats has led to a sharp decline in their population. The webbed front and rear feet of otters make them excellent swimmers, and they are also called as the panther of the water.

Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)National Institute of Ecology

Golden eagle

The endangered golden eagle often winters in the civilian access control line of Paju and Cheorwon. This is because residents feed starved golden eagles, protect them, and return them to nature. We can get a glimpse of the future of the DMZ in which humans and nature coexist from the lives of residents living in the civilian access control line area in harmony with wildlife.

Manchurian trout (Brachymystax lenok)National Institute of Ecology

Manchurian trout

Manchurian trout, which is an endangered species and freshwater fish in the Salmonidae family that only live in clean and cold water, can be found around the DMZ. Dutayeon, which is the northernmost region of South Korea in the DMZ, is a clean area that has been untouched by humans for decades, and it is the largest habitat for Manchurian trout.

Yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula)National Institute of Ecology

Unmanned eco cameras were installed in the DMZ by the National Institute of Ecology to investigate life here. Various endangered species were spotted by unmanned eco cameras within the DMZ. Though taken by coincidence, you can check out the vivid life forms of the DMZ.

Asiatic black bearNational Institute of Ecology

Asiatic black bear

An Asiatic black bear was spotted by an unmanned camera installed by researchers from the National Institute of Ecology for the first time in 20 years.It is assumed that they are reproducing as an Asiatic black bear cub was discovered, thus providing a very hopeful future.The Asiatic black bear had a rapid decrease in population due to poaching and reduced habitats, thus making them endangered species.

Long-tailed goral (or Amur goral, Naemorhedus cautatus)National Institute of Ecology

Mountain goat

This is a mountain goat caught on the unmanned eco camera in an area where landmines were discovered. The DMZ and its surrounding area have the most mines buried per unit area in the world. This is a fatal weapon that is buried underground and explodes when on causing critical injuries.

Yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula)National Institute of Ecology

Yellow-throated marten

The yellow-throated marten living in the DMZ has a high broad range in the Korean ecosystem. It is one of the apex predators and is at the top of the food chain. They travel in small groups of two to six, and they are animals that can even hunt bigger animals.

Wildcat (Felis bengalensis euptilura)National Institute of Ecology


Wildcats are mammals in the Felidae family, and they are an apex predator in the Korean ecosystem. They are usually active at night and feed on various prey, including rodents, birds, and insects. They live all around Korea such as in the deep forests, coasts, and rice paddies.

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