The drug baron introduced a small variety of the African beasts to Colombia within the late Eighties. But after his dying in 1993, the so-calledhave been left to roam freely and environmental authorities have been helpless to curb their numbers.
The hippos, which unfold from Escobar’s property into close by rivers the place they flourished, don’t have any pure predators in Colombia and have been declared an invasive species that would upset the ecosystem.
Authorities estimate there are 169 hippos in Colombia, particularly within the Magdalena River basin, and that if no measures are taken, there could possibly be 1,000 by 2035.
Environment Minister Susana Muhamad mentioned the primary stage of the plan would be the surgical sterilization of 40 hippos per 12 months and this can start subsequent week.
The process is pricey — every sterilization prices about $9,800 — and entails dangers for the hippopotamus, together with allergic reactions to anesthesia or dying, in addition to dangers to the animal well being personnel, based on the ministry. The hippos are dispersed over a big space, and are territorial and infrequently aggressive.
Experts say sterilization alone will not be sufficient to manage the expansion of the invasive species, which is why the federal government is arranging for the doableto different international locations, a plan that was introduced in March. But the price of deporting the hippos can be costly — an estimated .
Muhamad mentioned Colombian officers have contacted authorities in Mexico, India and the Philippines, and are evaluating sending 60 hippos to India.
“We are engaged on the protocol for the export of the animals,” she mentioned. “We are usually not going to export a single animal if there isn’t a authorization from the environmental authority of the opposite nation.”
As a final resort to manage the inhabitants, the ministry is making a protocol for euthanasia.
A bunch of hippos was introduced within the Eighties to Hacienda Nápoles, Escobar’s non-public zoo that turned a vacationer attraction after his dying in 1993. Most of the animals stay freely in rivers and reproduce with out management.
Residents of close by Puerto Triunfo have grow to be used to hippos typically roaming freely in regards to the city.
Scientists warn that the hippos’ feces change the composition of rivers and will impression the habitat of native manatees and capybaras.
Independent journalist Audrey Huse, who has lived in Colombia for eight years, informed CBS News that as a result of the hippos roam freely, they find yourself killing fish and threatening endemic species like manatees, otters and turtles.
“Because they don’t have any pure predators right here, as they might in Africa, the inhabitants is booming an it is affecting the native ecosystem,” Huse mentioned. “Because they’re such massive animals, they eat appreciable quantities of grassland and produce important waste, which then poisons the rivers.”
Hippos additionally pose hazard to people
While many of the focus has been on the impression on the ecosystem, the animals have additionally interacted with people.
Recently, one of many hippos burst right into a schoolyard in Doradal with each pupils and fogeys current. “The moms get scared once they see an animal of that dimension,” teacher Dunia Arango informed AFP.
“There are about 35 kids enjoying that would method them and provoke a tragedy,” mentioned David Echeverri, an official from the native atmosphere authority.
“While they could look very calm, at any second, given their extremely unpredictable habits, they’ll assault, as has occurred earlier than.”
John Aristides, 33, remembers very effectively that afternoon in October 2021 when he was fishing on the banks of a creek when a hippopotamus “lunged at me and hit me on the pinnacle with its lips.”
He slipped attempting to get away and was bitten on the arm.
“It grabbed me and threw me two meters,” he added. “It did not tear off my arm as a result of they’ve very vast enamel.”
But Aristides nonetheless spent a month in hospital recovering.
That is the closest Colombia has come to a deadly encounter however “if we do not do something, then we anticipate to have hundreds of hippopotami wandering round” sooner or later, mentioned Echeverri, who earlier this 12 months buried a. The animals may be lethal, killing an estimated 500 individuals yearly in Africa.
AFP contributed to this report.