Pablo Escobar’s 80 “cocaine hippos” wreak havoc in a fragile ecosystem

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The descendants of four hippos that Colombian cocaine drug lord Pablo Escobar smuggled into the country in the 1980s is now damaging the country’s ecosystem.

The hippos that Escobar bought first lived in his private zoo, but the pack was freed after his death in 1993, according to the BBC. Their descendants now roam freely north of the city of Bogotá along the Magdalena River and are considered the largest invasive species on earth, according to The Washington Post.


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Biologists now estimate there could be as many as 120 hippos roaming the waterway, according to a podcast by The Guardian, and fear that the population will quickly reach 1,000 since there is no annual drought in Colombia and the animals have no natural predators in their new home.

“It is obvious that we have pity on these animals, but as scientists we have to be honest,” said Colombian biologist Nataly Castelblanco, author of a study on the impact of the animal on the ecosystem of the country, told the BBC. “Hippos are an invasive species in Colombia and if we don’t kill part of their population now, the situation could get out of hand in just 10 or 20 years.”

According to The Guardian, experts fear the presence of the animals is starting to impact other large animals that live in the Magdalena River, such as manatees and West Indian crocodiles. Their droppings have already started to negatively impact the river water, killing some species of fish. The authorities therefore decided to slaughter the animals to prevent their numbers from growing.

Authorities are also concerned about the threat animals pose to humans, according to the podcast episode. In Africa, each year, hippos kill around 500 people a year, making them the most dangerous animals on the planet, according to National Geographic.

Colombian hippos, jokingly referred to as Escobar’s ‘cocaine’ hippos, appear to be less aggressive than their African counterparts, according to The Guardian, as there have so far only been two documented incidents of animals attacking people. in the country.


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