In the lush landscapes of Colombia, a legacy from the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to thrive and pose challenges. The descendants of the hippos, originally brought by Escobar in the 1980s for his private zoo, have grown in numbers, leading to significant environmental and safety concerns.
The Growing Population and Its Challenges
Colombia has been grappling with the increasing population of these 166 hippos, descendants of those owned by Pablo Escobar during the 1980s. Susana Muhamad, the Minister of Environment, recently revealed plans to manage this burgeoning population. While 20 of these creatures are set to be sterilized, others are slated for relocation abroad, and a few, unfortunately, might be culled. Over the years, experts have been striving to control the hippo population, but their efforts have often been met with challenges.
After Escobar’s demise in a police encounter in 1993, these animals were left to roam freely. The Colombian authorities have since tried various strategies to manage the hippo population explosion in the Magdalena river, including sterilization and relocation to foreign zoos. However, the absence of natural predators and the fertile marshy region of Antioquia created an ideal environment for these African natives to flourish.
The Fate of Escobar’s Hippos
The fate of these hippos took a decisive turn when they were declared an invasive species last year, paving the way for potential extermination. Susana Muhamad emphasized, “We are working on the protocol for the export of the animals. We will not export a single animal without the authorization of the environmental authority of the other country.” She further mentioned the development of a euthanasia protocol as a last resort. Colombian experts have long warned about the uncontrolled breeding of these hippos, highlighting the risks they pose to both humans and native wildlife.
Estimations indicate that if unchecked, the hippo population could surge to 1000 by 2035. Animal rights activists argue that sterilization procedures are distressing for the animals and pose significant risks to the veterinarians involved. It’s worth noting that hippos, being one of the largest terrestrial animals, can weigh up to three tons. Their formidable size and aggressive nature make them one of the most dangerous animals, accounting for approximately 500 fatalities annually. Local fishing communities along the Magdalena river have faced attacks, and there have been instances of hippos venturing into schoolyards, though, fortunately, without any fatal outcomes.
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Pablo Escobar: The Infamous Drug Lord
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, commonly known as Pablo Escobar, has left an indelible mark on Colombia’s history and the world at large. Born on December 1, 1949, in Rionegro, he rose to become one of the most formidable criminals in history. Escobar’s criminal journey began on the streets of Medellín, where he dabbled in various illicit activities. However, his meteoric rise to infamy came with his involvement in drug trafficking, primarily cocaine. Along with associates, he established the Medellín Cartel, which dominated the global cocaine trade in the 1980s.
Escobar’s reign was characterized by unparalleled violence and corruption. He orchestrated countless murders, bribed government officials, and controlled a significant portion of Colombia’s drug trade. His immense wealth earned him a spot among the world’s richest individuals. Yet, his reign of terror also ignited a brutal war between drug cartels and the Colombian government, leading to unprecedented devastation. Bombings, kidnappings, and mass murders became commonplace. The hunt for Escobar became a top priority for both Colombian and US authorities. In December 1993, after years on the run, Escobar met his end in a police shootout in Medellín.
His life and influence have been the subject of numerous books, films, TV series, and documentaries, shedding light on his impact on the drug trade, his legacy in Colombia, and his controversial persona.
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