Juancho Torres / Getty Images
The “coke hippos” of Pablo Escobar, in the department of Antioquia in Colombia, September 24, 2018.
COLOMBIA – About 70 invasive hippos from Colombia will soon be sent to sanctuaries in India and Mexico, according to an announcement from the governor of the department of Antioquia on Monday (March 7th). These animals, which reproduce in an uncontrolled manner, are nicknamed “coke hippos”as they were imported into the private zoo of drug lord Pablo Escobar in the 1980s.
“We hope that the permits required by the national institutions can be approved in the first half of this year, so that we can make arrangements for the air shipment”Governor Anibal Gaviria said.
The Ostok Sanctuary International Foundation has expressed interest in relocating a group of 70 hippos from Pue…
— Aníbal Gaviria Correa (@anibalgaviria)
“The International Ostok Sanctuary Foundation has said it wants to move a group of 70 hippos from Puerto Triunfo to natural sanctuaries in India and Mexico. Because WE ARE FRIENDS OF ANIMALS, in our government we have accompanied this process. LIFE FIRST »
After the death of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar in 1993, the mammals were left free and populated the region of Magdalena Medio, a hot savannah criss-crossed by rivers, marshes and swamps where food is abundant.
Residents threatened by hippos
The development of the hippopotamus population quickly became a problem and “a complex situation for the inhabitants” by Magdalena Medio. Some have in particular been ” threat “ by these animals, which can weigh two to three tons and the local environmental authority (Cornare) recorded two attacks on residents in 2021. The governor therefore wants to send around half of the 150 animals abroad.
In 2022, after unsuccessfully attempting a sterilization program, the government declared the hippos “invasive species”, opening the door to the hunt. The experts and La Cornare had agreed that this was a solution ” necessary “ given the threat to local people and wildlife.
Thanks to a large-scale plan financed by the Mexican defender of the environment Ernesto Zazueta, Anibal Gaviria hopes to be able to save them. “We have defined how hippos should be captured, how they should be kept (…) and how they should be transported from the capture area to airports in Mexico and India”, did he declare. The animals will travel in “very sturdy boxes” and will not be sedated for health reasons.
Ernesto Zazueta, president of the Association of Zoos, Hatcheries and Aquariums of Mexico, confirmed on Friday that he was taking steps to bring ten of these hippos to the sanctuary in Ostok, northern Mexico, and 60 others to a similar location in India. . Ecuador, which according to the press also offered to welcome some of the individuals, denied on Saturday having authorized the entry of the animals.
See also on Le HuffPost :