Colombia to cull, sterilize Pablo Escobar’s hippos


The Colombian government has announced a three-pronged strategy —  sterilization, transfer, euthanasia — to tackle the once owned by drug baron Pablo Escobar.

The sterilization of hippos will begin next week, Environment Minister Susana Muhamad said. As per the plan, 20 hippos will be sterilized in 2023. From 2024 onwards, 40 hippos will be spayed every year.

Sterilizing each animal will cost the government an average of 40 million pesos ($9,800, €9,220). 

“We must clarify that this is not the only strategy, nor would it be sufficient, we could not control the population with sterilization alone,” Muhamad said.

The government is also seeking to relocate the animals to other countries such as . Some of the hippos will also be euthanized. 

What’s the trouble with hippos?

Colombia has been fighting the unchecked spread of the wild hippopotamuses for years.

The South American nation currently has an estimated 169 hippopotamuses — descendants of the handful brought in by the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar for his private zoo in the 1980s.

After Escobar was killed in 1993, the animals escaped from his compound into nearby forests.

Experts say they are an invasive species that destroys fields, and puts local residents in danger.

They fear that the population could reach 1,000 by 2035 if no measures are taken. 

mk/nm (dpa, AP, AFP)

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