Next week, the Colombian authorities will sterilize one of the hippos living in the country after being taken by the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, and which threatens the population and the ecosystem.
In this way, the management plan designed to control this population is initiated, which will not only include sterilizations -40 per year―, but also with the transfer and “ethical euthanasia”, reports the Colombian authorities.
This was confirmed by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhamad, who indicated that for the rest of the year the projection is to sterilize 20 hippos, to reach 40 a year from 2024.
Drug lord Escobar’s hippos breed uncontrollably in Colombia
she The plan for these invasive species is proposed for 20 years, although Muhamad hopes that this period can be cut in half.. Each operation costs 40 million pesos (9,320 euros) and it is a “complex and expensive” intervention: it lasts between six and seven hours – if it is female it is more complicated, according to experts – and it has a risk for both animals, due to the anesthesia process or complications that lead to their death, as for the experts who do the process, Muhamad stated in a press conference.
The country has been facing this problem for 30 years.
Colombia has been dealing with the problem of hippos for 30 years, when drug lord Pablo Escobar introduced them to the country as about his private “zoo”.
When they die, the individuals escape and find a perfect home in Magdalena Medio, with all the food they need, a good climate and no natural enemies.
But they have become “ecosystem engineers”, they are already expanding and “territorial animals, with very high aggression and a vector of diseases” for the local animal.
#EnMedios🗞️ | Inicia el plan para enfrentar a los hipopótamos, declarados como especie invasora. “La esterilización no es la única estrategia, ni va a ser suficiente. No podemos controlar las poblaciones solo con esterilizaciones. El procedimiento es complejo y costoso."…
— MinAmbiente Colombia (@MinAmbienteCo) November 2, 2023
Currently the population 169 pachyderms living in an area with an influence of about 48,000 hectares.
Together with the Regional Autonomous Corporation of the Black and Nare River Basins (Cornare), the Ministry of Environment will sterilize the first individual next week, “but it is not enough, we cannot control the population with sterilization alone,” he said. Muhammad commented.
Transfer and ethical euthanasia
So moving is also part of the plan – there is a studied an advanced offer from India to acquire 60 hippos― and also “ethical euthanasia”.
“None of the three is effective on its own,” but it is important to do it together, the minister said.
“We want to control the expansion of the population and keep them in closed nuclei so that, over time, when they stop reproducing they will annihilate themselves in the country, especially because we are in a race against time in terms of environmental impacts. and ecosystems,” he added.
They also have an impact on the communities that live with them.
In April, a hippopotamus died after it collided with a car while traveling on a highway, causing two people to be injured.