According to the governor, Colombia intends to send 70 “cocaine hippos” to Mexico and India.

In an effort to manage their rapidly expanding population, Colombia wants to airlift dozens of its “cocaine hippos”—the offspring of drug lord Pablo Escobar’s private menagerie—to new residences in India and Mexico.

According to the Colombian government, there are currently between 130 and 160 hippos, and they have multiplied beyond Escobar’s former ranch, Hacienda Napoles, where they first appeared as a colony of just one male and three females.

The original hippos were kept by Escobar in the 1980s at his ranch, which was located around 250 kilometers (155 miles) outside of Medelln. Authorities moved the majority of the other animals after his passing in 1993, but not the hippos because they were too difficult to move.

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Colombia is promoting contraception among its “cocaine hippos”
However, they started reproducing quickly after that, expanding their range in the Magdalena River basin, and today, according to authorities, they constitute a threat to the ecosystem and are raising concerns among the local population.

According to a study published in the journal Nature, their population might double within 20 years to 1,500.

In the past, administrations have used castrations and “shots” of contraceptive darts to try and manage their population. But, the contraceptive drives haven’t exactly been a hit.

The governor of the province of Antioquia, where Hacienda Napoles is located, announced in a Tweet that there is currently a proposal to relocate 70 of the hippos to natural sanctuaries in India and Mexico.

Why Mexico and India?
It is anticipated that 70 hippos, including both males and females, will be relocated, with 60 heading to India and 10 to Mexico.

According to governor Anbal Gaviria, this operation is known technically as “translocating,” as it involves relocating the hippos from one country that is not their natural habitat to another country that is also not their natural habitat.

It was intended to “transport them to nations where these institutions have the ability to welcome them, to properly (house) them, and to manage their reproduction,” according to Gaviria.

Gaviria declared that it was “not permissible” to send the hippos back to their home continent of Africa.

Three female and one male hippos were initially brought by Pablo Escobar.
Three female and one male hippos were initially brought by Pablo Escobar.
by Fernando Vergara / AP
According to Mara ngela Echeverry, a professor of biology at the Javeriana University, returning the hippos to Africa ran the potential of having a negative impact on both the local environment and the hippos themselves. She previously told CNN that this was the case.

“We transport diseases, germs, and viruses along with animals and plants whenever we move them from one place to another. And we could be bringing new diseases to Africa that would affect not only the wild hippos but also the entire African environment, which has not evolved with that particular type of sickness, according to Echeverry.

In addition to limiting the number of hippos in Colombia, authorities want to figure out how to control the ones that are still there because they could become a popular tourist attraction.

Gaviria stated during the radio interview that the hippos won’t initially be drugged and would be flown in specially designed crates.

But, he warned, “emergency sedation” may be used if one of the animals becomes too nervous during the journey.

If the necessary licenses, particularly those from the Colombian Agricultural Institute, are accelerated, the translocation might be finished by the first half of this year, according to Gaviria.

exotic species
Some people consider hippos to be an invasive species that can be harmful to nearby ecosystems and occasionally even humans.

According to research, hippo feces can lower the oxygen levels in bodies of water, which can harm fish and eventually people.

A 2019 study that discovered hippos were present in lakes with more cyanobacteria, which are linked to hazardous algae, was cited by Nature magazine. These blooms can harm local fishing communities by lowering the quality of the water and killing large numbers of fish.

On August 18, 2019, hippopotamuses can be seen swimming in a lake next to Hacienda Napoles in Doradal, Colombia. In the early 1980s, Pablo Escobar built his own theme park and private zoo in Hacienda Naples, which he owned. The exotic creatures were taken away by the Colombian authorities after his passing in 1993, but four hippopotamuses were left, and they have since multiplied by about 50, posing a threat to the ecosystem and the locals of Doradal.
Scientists argue that Colombia’s “cocaine hippos” must be eliminated, but not everyone concurs.
A 2021 study by the Biological Conservation found that hippos can be dangerous to agriculture and public safety. Hippos are capable of attacking humans and eating or harming crops.

“Hippopotamuses are highly violent and live in herds. They generally eat plants and are quite territorial, according to Professor Echeverry.

Although the “cocaine hippos” are not indigenous to Colombia, the region’s geography is regarded to be ideal for their reproduction because to its abundance of food and shallow water sources.

According to Gaviria to Blu Radio, a situation that “went out of hand” has not yet been resolved in Colombia.

It remains to be seen if the most recent initiatives will be successful where birth control initiatives failed.

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