Science

In Colombia, we sterilized Escobar’s invasive hippos – sciences et Avenir

Twenty-four of the 80 hippos that colonized the waters near the former property of the famous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar in Colombia have been sterilized to control the “uncontrolled” growth of this “invasive” species, officials of the operation reported this Friday.

The hippos were injected with Gonaco, an “effective contraceptive for both men and women,” which is “cheaper” than “surgical sterilization,” says Cornare, a regional environmental protection organization, in a press release.

Dart guns were used, while other people were “baited and captured.”

The operation is more complex than it seems because “experts suggest administering three doses, based on studies and comparisons made with other large animals, such as horses,” explains Cornare.

With financial and technical support from the United States, the chemical castration operation lasted almost a week, in the municipality of Puerto Triunfo (northwest).

It has the ambition to become “a world benchmark for the control of an invasive hippo population, a unique case on the planet,” according to Cornare. The first eleven individuals had already been sterilized in the traditional way.

This colony of 80 hippos, reputed to be the largest colony of these animals outside of Africa, is a direct descendant of a couple imported by Pablo Escobar, at the height of his fame, to reach the zoo of his farm in Naples, around a anus. one hundred kilometers south of its stronghold of Medellín.

Upon the death of Escobar, shot in 1993 by the Colombian security forces, the animals had been abandoned to their fate, while the immense village, the scene of all the eccentricities of the drug trafficker, was also ‘abandoned’.

Preparation of sedative doses to put hippos to sleep before sterilization, October 15, 2021 in Doradal, Colombia (CORNARE / AFP – -)

They were sold to zoos flamingos, giraffes, zebras and other kangaroos from the pet store. Left behind, without predators, the pachyderms have multiplied, becoming an attraction for the world’s media, but above all an environmental problem and a threat to the inhabitants of this mountainous and tropical region.

“The presence of these animals in an ecosystem that is not theirs has consequences, such as the displacement of our local fauna”, the “modification of ecosystems” and “attacks” on fishermen, all due to “uncontrolled population growth”, stresses David Echeverri, Cornare expert.

Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellín cartel, and whose head was taken over by the United States, was one of the richest men in the world, according to Forbes, after having founded an empire of crime and narco-terrorism.

Almost thirty years after his death, he inevitably remains associated with Colombia. It has deeply marked the imagination of this country, as evidenced by the success of the Netflix series “Narcos”, and of the Colombians themselves.

Despite its downfall and that of other drug lords, Colombia remains the world’s largest producer of cocaine and the United States its largest market.

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