- Author, Graeme Baker
- Role, BBC News
The Minister of the Environment, Susana Muhamad, stated that 20 of them will be sterilized, others will be transferred abroad and “some” will be euthanized.
Experts have been trying to control hippo numbers for years.
Authorities have tried several approaches to contain the population explosion on Colombia’s main river, the Magdalena, including sterilization and transferring individuals to zoos not external.
However, these efforts have failed to contain the group’s growth, due to the lack of predators and the fertile, swampy conditions of the Antioquia region, which are ideal for this animal native to Africa to thrive.
Their fate was sealed when hippos were declared an invasive species last year, paving the way for their reduction.
“We are working on the protocol for exporting the animals,” said Muhamad, according to local press.
“We will not export any animals without authorization from the other country’s environmental authority.”
She said the ministry is creating a protocol for euthanasia as a last resort.
Colombian experts have long warned that the uncontrolled reproduction of hippos poses a threat to humans and native fauna.
Estimates suggest the population could reach 1,000 by 2035 if nothing is done, but animal rights activists say sterilization causes suffering to animals – and great danger to the vets who carry it out.
The hippopotamus is one of the largest land animals, with adult males weighing up to three tons. They are also among the most dangerous, killing around 500 people a year.
In the past, fishing communities along the Magdalena River have been attacked and some hippos invaded a school yard, although no one was killed.
Escobar was the head of the Medellín cartel and nicknamed the “cocaine king”, amassing a fortune estimated at US$30 billion by smuggling drugs to Miami and the southern United States.
His reign of terror lasted more than a decade and involved kidnappings, hundreds of murders, bribes, bombings and turf wars with rival drug lords – as well as a brief stint as an elected politician.
As one of the most wanted men on the planet, he surrendered to Colombian authorities in 1991 with an agreement to spend five years in a prison he built himself, known as La Catedral.
Escobar escaped a year later during government attempts to transfer him to a more secure prison.
With a reward of US$2 million from USA for his head, he met his end in his hometown of Rionegro – he was shot dead on a rooftop on December 2, 1993, while trying to escape the police.
He left a legacy of violence, but also the Hacienda Nápoles, a 5,500-acre estate in Antioquia that was turned over to poor residents by the government after his death and turned into a theme park.
The hippos were left free as they were considered difficult to capture.
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