Colombia’s ‘cocaine hippos’ should be culled, scientists say

Colombia's 'cocaine hippos' must be culled, scientists say


Hippopotamuses delivered to Colombia as a part of Escobar’s personal zoo at his ranch, Hacienda Napoles, have bred so efficiently that there’s critical concern over their environmental affect and human security, in keeping with a brand new research by researchers at Mexican and Colombian universities.

The hippos have unfold out from their authentic residence, some 100 miles east of the town of Medellin, within the Antioquia division, dispersing across the Magdalena river basin as their inhabitants continues to develop steadily.

The authors of the research, revealed within the January version of the journal Biological Conservation, advocate that the hippos be culled to stop long-term adverse results, however different scientists are calling for a castration program to manage the hippo inhabitants, citing issues over animal welfare and the attachment of some locals to their new neighbors.

Back within the 1980s, Escobar imported one male and three feminine hippos to hitch his menagerie. Upon his dying, different species of unique animals have been relocated, however the hippos have been left as a result of they have been troublesome to seize and transport, in keeping with the research.

The hippos quickly started to unfold within the surrounding space, however authorities efforts to cull them have been halted after a public outcry.

A sterilization marketing campaign was begun as an alternative, but it surely has accomplished little to sluggish the hippos’ progress.

From 2011 to 2019 4 males have been castrated and two females have been sterilized, however this “does not seem to have an important impact on reproduction,” in keeping with the research.

Researchers say there are most likely greater than 80 hippos within the space at the moment, up from 35 in 2012, they usually fear that the hippos will proceed to unfold all through Colombia if no motion is taken.

The research additionally cites analysis exhibiting the adverse results of hippo waste on oxygen ranges in our bodies of water, which may have an effect on fish and finally people, and raises issues concerning the attainable transmission of ailments from hippos to people.

Hippos additionally pose a risk to the livelihoods and safety of individuals in affected areas, the research stated, consuming or damaging crops and fascinating in aggressive interactions with people.

The researchers cite incidences of hippos chasing folks, in addition to a hippo assault in May 2020 during which a 45-year-old man was significantly injured.

Escobar brought the hippos to his ranch in the early 1980s.

But whereas the research’s authors advocate a cull, Enrique Zerda Ordóñez, a biologist at Colombia’s National University, believes castration packages are the best way ahead.

Culling the hippos can be an “easy option,” stated Zerda, but it surely might have an effect on the survival of a species that’s beneath risk in Africa.

Though sterilizing hippos is not any simple job, he stated, he believes it’s each attainable and essential to take action now, earlier than their numbers rise additional, in keeping with a press launch from the college.

“Right now, the authorities don’t consider the species to be a problem,” Zerda stated, “but in the future, when there are 400-500 hippos, it could represent a threat to the survival of other species that feed in the same areas.”

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David Echeverri Lopez, head of forests and biodiversity on the CORNARE regional environmental company, instructed Source that the scenario is delicate.

“The option of killing them has always been on the table,” he stated. “However it’s very difficult to imagine this could happen at the moment.”

While the hippos are an invasive species able to fully altering native ecosystems, folks within the space have gotten used to them, Echeverri stated. They’ve turn into a vacationer attraction that individuals really feel some affection towards, he added.

Some of the hippos should be killed, as a result of it is “practically impossible” to search out and relocate or sterilize them.

“But there are some other animals that are located in certain areas, in lakes and places that allow for a birth control plan to be put in place, assuming that adequate resources are available,” stated Echeverri, who’s working with the NGO Animal Balance to attempt to discover different options.

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