Colombia plans to relocate around 70 hippos to Mexico and India.
Move over Cocaine Bear, ‘Cocaine Hippos’ take the limelight in a South American country.
Colombia plans to relocate about 70 hippos living near Pablo Escobar’s former ranch to two other countries to control their booming population.
The animals, descendants of four animals the late drug lord illegally imported from Africa in the 1980s, have spread well beyond the Hacienda Napoles ranch, about 125 miles from Bogota along the Magdalena River.
Escobar’s ranch and the so-called “cocaine hippos” have become tourist attractions in the years since the kingpin was killed by police in December 1993. When his ranch was abandoned, the hippos survived and reproduced in local rivers and favorable climatic conditions.
Environmental authorities estimate that there are around 130 hippos in the area in Antioquia province and their population could reach 400 within the next decade.
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feces in the water
Hippos are territorial, weighing up to three tons, and are one of the most aggressive animals on earth, according to National Geographic. They can break a canoe in half with their powerful jaws and kill about 500 people in Africa every year.
The herbivorous mammals have no natural predators, and scientists say they pose a potential problem for biodiversity because their feces change the composition of rivers. They also say and could affect the habitat of animals there like manatees.
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If all goes according to plan, the hippos will be transported to Mexico and India.
The idea of stripping them had been brewing for more than a year, said Lina Marcela de los Ríos Morales, director of animal welfare and welfare at Antioquia’s environment ministry. The plan is to focus on the hippos that live in the rivers surrounding the ranch, not those within the ranch as they are in a controlled environment there.
Ecuador, the Philippines and Botswana have also expressed interest in relocating the hippos to their countries, the Antioquia governor’s office reported.
How will they move the hippos?
So the officials plan to move the animals.
- They are lured into large iron containers with groceries and taken by truck to the international airport in the city of Rionegro, about 150 kilometers away.
- From there they are flown to India and Mexico.
- 60 hippos are going to the Greens Zoological Rescue & Rehabilitation Kingdom in Gujarat, India, along the country’s west coast and the Arabian Sea.
- 10 hippos go to zoos and sanctuaries in Mexico, including Ostok in Sinaloa on the Gulf of California.
The resettlements, De los Ríos Morales said, would help control the hippopotamus population, and while the animals’ native habitat is Africa, it’s more humane than the alternative proposal to eradicate them as an invasive species.
Contributed by Astrid Suarez with Associated Press. Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.