Next week, Colombian authorities will sterilize one of the hippos that live in the country after the drug trafficker took them. Pablo Escobar, and that threaten inhabitants and ecosystem. In this way, the management plan drawn up to control this population is initiated, which will not only include sterilizations – 40 per year – but also transfer and ethical euthanasia.
This has been confirmed by the Colombian Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Susana Muhammadwho has indicated that for the remainder of the year the projection is to sterilize 20 hippos, to go on to sterilize 40 a year starting in 2024. The plan for this invasive species was proposed for 20 years, although Muhamad hopes that it can be reduce this time by half.
Each sterilization costs 40 million pesos (9,320 euros) and is a “complex and expensive” operation: it can last between six and seven hours – if it is a female it is more complicated, according to experts – and it has risk for both the animals, the anesthesia process or complications that lead to death, as well as for the experts who carry out the process, Muhamad declared in a press conference.
Colombia has faced the problem of hippos for 30 years, when drug trafficker Pablo Escobar introduced them to the country as part of his private “zoo.” With his death, the individuals escaped and found a perfect habitat in Magdalena Medio, with all the food they need, a good climate and no natural enemies.
But they have become an “ecosystem engineer”, they have been expanding and are “territorial animals, with very high aggressiveness and a vector of diseases” for local fauna. Right now the population is 169 pachyderms that live in an area of influence of about 48,000 hectares.