Colombia is dealing with a rapidly growing population of African Hippos, and scientists say that they may need to cull these animals to get it under control. Pablo Escobar imported these non-native creatures at the height of his reign as the cocaine kingpin in the late 1980s, so they’re calling these animals Cocaine Hippos.
Back when Escobar was killed in 1993, authorities seized his property and assets at his home Hacienda Nápoles. One of the things they overlooked at the time and are now paying for were the hippos that he had in his personal zoo on the estate.
What started out as four hippos (one male and three females) has turned into 80-100 in the span of less than last 30 years. They continue to rapidly breed and wildlife control is having some major issues with what they are saying is the largest invasive species in the area.
To some, they are seen as the unofficial mascot of the area. To others, they are a nuisance, and to scientists- they are just plain out of control.
Authorities had tried to sterilize the hippos, but due to rapid breeding (and the fact that they could maybe sterilize one a year) it’s just not working. By the time 2040 rolls around, there will be an estimated 1,500 hippos in the area surrounding the Magdalena River.
One option would be to relocate the animals but they are huge, heavy, and hard to capture. Hippos are aggressive creatures. There was a case in the area that a hippo had picked up a local farmer by the leg and threw him so hard, the farmer shattered his hips, legs, and other bones. The farmer was just out collecting water and it’s said that he did nothing to antagonize it. It’s also the reason that when they first seized Escobar’s property and relocated all of this other animals to zoos they skipped the hippos. At the time they didn’t want to deal with the problem of relocating them, and now there is a much bigger issue.
“Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippo, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work,” ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph.
It looks like they will have to cull the hippos in order to get the population under control enough to either sterilize or relocate the rest. But Colombia has certain laws in place that protects the hippos. Time will tell if that will change so that they can get the issue resolved. In Africa these animals kill more people annually than any other African mammal. And they worry that the same could be true in the future for Colombia if things don’t change soon.
Maybe sending in some of Florida’s Meth Gators would help. Which totally sounds like a SYFY channel movie, not gonna lie.