Colombia plans to fly dozens of its “cocaine hippos” – the descendents of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar’s personal menagerie – to new houses in India and Mexico in a bid to regulate their booming inhabitants, in keeping with the native governor.
There are actually between 130 and 160 of the hippos, in keeping with the Colombian authorities, and so they have unfold out far past Escobar’s former ranch of Hacienda Napoles, the place they started as a inhabitants of only one male and three females.
The unique hippos had been a part of a set of unique animals Escobar had amassed within the Eighties at his ranch about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Medellín. After his demise in 1993, authorities relocated many of the different animals, however not the hippos – as a result of they had been too difficult to transport.
But they’ve since begun to breed quickly, extending their attain alongside the Magdalena River basin, and so they now pose an environmental problem and are regarding close by residents, authorities say.
A examine within the journal Nature warned their numbers might balloon to 1,500 inside twenty years.
Previously, authorities have tried to regulate their inhabitants utilizing castrations and “shots” of contraceptive darts. But the contraceptive drives have had restricted success.
Now there’s a plan to switch 70 of the hippos to pure sanctuaries in India and Mexico, the governor of Antioquia province, the place Hacienda Napoles is positioned, mentioned in a Tweet.
A complete of 70 hippos, a mixture of women and men, are anticipated to be moved – with 60 going to India and 10 to Mexico.
The technical time period for this operation is “translocating,” governor Aníbal Gaviria defined in an interview with the Colombian outlet Blu Radio, as it will contain transferring the hippos from one nation that was not their native habitat to a different that was additionally not their pure habitat.
The objective was “to take them to international locations the place these establishments have the capability to obtain them, and to (house) them correctly and to regulate their replica,” Gaviria mentioned.
Sending the hippos again to their place of birth of Africa was “not allowed,” Gaviria mentioned.
Sending the hippos again to Africa risked doing extra hurt than good, for each the hippos themselves and the native ecosystem, María Ángela Echeverry, professor of Biology on the Javeriana University, beforehand explained to CNN.
“Every time we transfer animals or vegetation from one place to the opposite, we additionally transfer their pathogens, their micro organism and their viruses. And we might be bringing new ailments to Africa, not only for the hippos which can be on the market within the wild, however new ailments for your entire African ecosystem that hasn’t developed with that kind of illness,” Echeverry mentioned.
Aside from lowering the variety of hippos in Colombia, authorities are hoping to learn to handle the remaining inhabitants, that are acknowledged as a possible vacationer attraction.
The hippos shall be flown in purpose-built containers, Gaviria mentioned within the radio interview, and won’t be sedated at first.
But “emergency sedation” is feasible if one of many animals is overcome by nerves throughout the flight, he added.
The translocation might be accomplished by the primary half of this yr if crucial permits are expedited, particularly from the Colombian Agricultural Institute, Gaviria mentioned.
Hippos are seen by some as an invasive species that may pose a hazard to native ecosystems and typically even to people.
Research has highlighted the unfavourable results hippo waste can have on oxygen ranges in our bodies of water, which might have an effect on fish and finally people.
Nature journal cited a 2019 paper that discovered lakes the place hippos had been current had extra cyanobacteria, that are related to poisonous algae. These blooms can scale back water high quality and trigger mass fish deaths, affecting native fishing communities.
Hippos may also pose a menace to agriculture and to individuals’s security, in keeping with a Biological Conservation study revealed in 2021. Hippos can eat or injury crops and interact in aggressive interactions with people.
“Hippos dwell in herds, they’re fairly aggressive. They are very territorial and are plant eaters typically,” mentioned Professor Echeverry.
While the “cocaine hippos” will not be native to Colombia, the native terrain is considered favorable for his or her replica, because it has shallow water sources and a big focus of meals.
Until now, Colombia has not been in a position to clear up an issue that – within the phrases of Gaviria to Blu Radio – “obtained uncontrolled.”
Whether the most recent efforts will succeed the place contraception efforts failed stays to be seen.
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