Pablo Escobar: Colombia to send 70 ‘cocaine hippos’ to India and Mexico, governor says


Colombia is planning to send dozens of its “cocaine behemoths” – descendants of drug dealer Pablo Escobar’s private menagerie – to new homes in India and Mexico to control a rapidly growing population, the local governor said.

There are currently between 130 and 160 hippos, according to the Colombian government, and they have spread far beyond Escobar’s former ranch Hacienda Napoles, where they started out as a population of just one male and three females.

The first hippos were part of a collection of exotic animals that Escobar collected in the 1980s at his ranch. about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Medellin. After his death in 1993, the authorities relocated most of the other animals, but not the hippos because they were too difficult to transport.

But since then, they have begun to multiply rapidly, expanding their reach along Magdalena river basinand now they are an environmental problem and disturb nearby residents, authorities say.

Study in a journal Nature warned that the number could rise to 1,500 within two decades.

Previously, the authorities tried to control their population through castration and “Shots” of contraceptive darts. But contraceptive attempts have met with limited success.

There is now a plan to move 70 hippos to natural reserves in India and Mexico, the governor of Antioquia province, where Hacienda Napoles is located, said. tweet.

A total of 70 male and female hippos are expected to be relocated, with 60 going to India and 10 to Mexico.

The technical term for this operation is “relocation,” Governor Anibal Gaviria explained in an interview with the publication. Colombian release of Blu Radioas this would require the movement of hippos from one country that is not their natural habitat to another that is also not their natural habitat.

The goal was to “deliver them to countries where these institutions have the capacity to receive them and properly (place) them and control their reproduction,” Gaviria said.

Sending hippos back to their homeland in Africa is “not allowed,” Gaviria said.

Pablo Escobar originally imported three female hippos and one male.

Sending hippos back to Africa could have done more harm than good, both to the hippos themselves and to the local ecosystem, said Maria Angela Echeverri, professor of biology at Javeriana University. explained on CNN.

“Every time we move animals or plants from one place to another, we also move their pathogens, their bacteria and their viruses. And we could bring new diseases to Africa, not just for hippos living in the wild, but new diseases for the entire African ecosystem that has not evolved with this type of disease,” Echeverri said.

In addition to reducing the number of hippos in Colombia, authorities hope to learn how to manage the remaining population, which is recognized as a potential tourist attraction.

According to Gaviria in a radio interview, the hippos will be transported in specially made boxes and will not be sedated at first.

But “emergency sedation” is possible if one of the animals gets nervous during the flight, he added.

The move could be completed by the first half of this year if the necessary permits are obtained, especially from the Columbia Agricultural Institute, Gaviria said.

Some consider hippos to be an invasive species that can pose a threat to local ecosystems, and sometimes even to humans.

Studies have identified the negative effects of hippo waste on oxygen levels in water bodies, which can affect fish and, ultimately, humans.

Nature The magazine cited a 2019 paper that found that lakes inhabited by hippos had more cyanobacteria associated with toxic algae. These blooms can degrade water quality and cause massive fish kills that will negatively impact local fishing communities.

Hippos can also pose a threat to agriculture and human security. Biological Conservation Research published in 2021. Hippos may eat or damage crops and engage in aggressive interactions with humans.

“Hippos live in herds, they are quite aggressive. They are very territorial and generally feed on plants,” said Professor Echeverri.

Although “cocaine hippopotamuses” are not native to Colombia, the local area is believed to be favorable for their reproduction, since there are shallow sources of water and a high concentration of food.

So far, Colombia has not been able to solve the problem, which, according to Gaviria in an interview with Blu Radio, “is out of control.”

It remains to be seen whether the latest effort will succeed where attempts at birth control have failed.

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