Colombia hopes to remove hippos from dead drug lords

BOGOTA: The governor of a region of Colombia where a herd of about 150 hippos – descendants of animals once owned by drug lord Pablo Escobar – breed out of control said on Monday he hoped for the green light to move half of them to protected areas in Send to India and Mexico.

“We hope that the permits required by national institutions can be approved in the first half of this year so that we can make arrangements for air transport,” Anibal Gaviria, governor of Antioquia in the northwest, told AFP.

A small herd of hippos arrived in Colombia in the late 1980s, brought by the fabulously wealthy cocaine lord Escobar. After his death in 1993, the animals were left to roam free and colonized the Magdalena Medio region, a hot savanna criss-crossed by rivers, swamps, and swamps that provides ample food for hippos.

Gaviria plans to transfer 70 of the herd – which the government declared invasive a year ago – to sanctuaries in India and Mexico.

The growth of the hippopotamus population “is a complex situation for residents” of Magdalena Medio, some of whom have been threatened by the animals, which can weigh two to three tons, he said.

The local environmental agency recorded two attacks on residents in 2021.

In 2022, after unsuccessful attempts at a sterilization program, the government declared hippos an invasive species, opening the door to hunting. Experts and the Environment Agency agreed that this was a necessary solution given the threat to local people and wildlife. –AFP Colombia hopes to remove hippos from dead drug lords

Russell Falcon

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