Pablo Escobar was one of the most infamous criminals in Colombia for many years, and although almost 3 decades have passed since his death, new details, problems, and memories of a story that marked the world in unimaginable ways continue to be discovered.
As the leader of one of the most powerful cartels in the world (the Medellín cartel is responsible for more than 80% of the cocaine that enters the United States), Pablo Escobar led a life full of luxury, had incredible properties inside and outside the country and he liked to show off his fortune with a few eccentricities that proved he was not just any millionaire.
Houses, jewelry, private planes, Pablo Escobar (who was killed in a shooting after he tried to escape from prison) had it all, but what really made him proud was his collection of exotic animals, which included a few hippos that came to be known, times later, as the hippos for cocaine , which he supposedly bought for his personal zoo in the 1980s.
The government took control of Pablo Escobar’s property and animals after his death (although not all of it, his nephew says he found millions of dollars behind a wall in an apartment), but the hippos were abandoned and allowed to live free for many years, until they became a problem.
Without humans to distract them, the hippos began to reproduce and it is said that there are now more than 100 of them in an area where they are not native, and experts believe that if left unchecked, that number could go up to 1,500 animals for by 2024, and this could cause irreversible damage to the ecosystem. By that point, the hippo population would be too large to control.
Experts say that hippo waste is toxic and contains bacteria that could be dangerous to other animals and humans, as well as being animals that have manifested some degree of aggression, and one of them even attacked a farmer and him left with a broken hip.
What is the solution they propose? Sacrifice these animals that were abandoned for many years and did not receive adequate control to prevent the population from increasing uncontrollably.
Ecologist Nataly Castelblanco-Martínez told The Telegraph: “Nobody likes the idea of shooting a hippopotamus, but we have to accept that no other strategy is going to work. Relocation could have been possible 30 years ago, when there were only four. hippos. Neutering could also have been effective if officials had provided sufficient resources for the program from the beginning, but now a selection is the only option. “
At this point, moving 100 hippos is not an alternative that experts consider viable, plus castration would only stop the population increase, but it would not change the fact that there are more than 100 hippos running around, so it is likely that a large part of these animals have to be slaughtered to prevent further damage.
Colombia is not the natural environment of hippos , but the climate and resources helped those 4 hippos that were bought by Pablo Escobar to have long lives, access to water and food, since they could reproduce without the danger of predators that could attack their young, and that’s what left the government with the problem they have now.
Environmentalists have been trying to sterilize hippos, but it is a difficult process, and so far they have only managed to do it with one hippo a year. Government environmentalist David Echeverri López said, “There has to be another solution. These hippos have become part of the local identity. But time is running out.” If they don’t come up with a better plan, the only way out could be to slaughter dozens of animals that have no other way out.